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U.S. real estate sales slow 2.1% in first quarter

But several Southern states post gains, NAR reports

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About 26 states had an increase in sales activity in first-quarter 2006 compared to first-quarter 2005, the National Association of Realtors trade group reported today, while the national rate of sales dropped 2.1 percent. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales was 6.8 million units in the first quarter, the association reported. This rate is a projection of a quarterly sales total over a full year, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity. Sales volume normally is higher in the summer and relatively light in winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and household buying patterns, the group reported. The biggest increase was in New Mexico, where existing-home sales rose 26.2 percent from the first quarter of 2005. Louisiana's first-quarter resale pace rose 22.9 percent from a year earlier, while Montana experienced the third-strongest gain, up 17.5 percent. Six other states recorded double-digit sales increases from a year ago. Twenty-one states and th...