Existing-home sales rose 8.3 percent in the first quarter compared to fourth-quarter 2010, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors.

Sales remained nearly flat year-over-year, dipping 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.14 million.

Also in the first quarter, sales prices fell 4.6 percent nationwide compared to first-quarter 2010, to a median $158,700.

Sales of single-family homes, condominiums and co-ops, on a quarter-to-quarter basis, rose in every state and Washington, D.C., except Vermont. There, sales fell 7.1 percent.

Sales jumped the most in the West (13.5 percent), followed by the South (8.5 percent), and the Midwest (7.9 percent). In the Northeast, sales stayed nearly flat, rising 0.8 percent.

South Dakota and Minnesota saw the biggest quarter-to-quarter sales jumps: 123.3 percent and 45.7 percent, respectively.

Year-over-year, only the South and West saw sales increases: 2.8 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Sales fell in 36 states compared to first-quarter 2010. Tennessee and Missouri saw the biggest drops: -14.5 percent and -13.5 percent, respectively.

Sales rose year-over-year in 13 states and Washington, D.C. South Dakota and Wyoming saw the biggest jumps: 86.1 percent and 26.1 percent, respectively. Sales remained flat in one state: New Hampshire.

The Midwest saw the biggest year-over-year drop in median sales price in the first quarter: 5.3 percent, to $124,400. In the Northeast, the median fell 5 percent to $234,100. The West saw its median fall 4.7 percent to $197,400. The median in the South remained nearly flat, however, dipping 0.6 percent, to $141,800.

Median sales prices fell year-over-year in 118 out of 153 metropolitan areas in the first quarter and rose in 34. Median price was unchanged in one metro area: Lincoln, Neb., which came in at $132,800.

Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss., and Akron, Ohio, saw the biggest price decreases: -22.8 percent (to $99,400) and -21.4 percent (to $74,900), respectively.

Metro  Q1 2010 Q1 2011 % Chg.
Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. $128,800 $99,400 -22.8%
Akron, Ohio $95,300 $74,900 -21.4%
Salem, Ore. $193,300 $153,500 -20.6%
Dayton, Ohio $97,900 $78,000 -20.3%
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio $108,300 $87,000 -19.7%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla. $191,200 $153,600 -19.7%
Ocala, Fla. $92,900 $75,400 -18.8%
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pa.-N.J. $228,200 $186,200 -18.4%
Tucson, Ariz. $166,800 $136,800 -18.0%
Cumberland, Md.-W.Va. $98,300 $80,700 -17.9%

Source: NAR

Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C., and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y., saw the biggest price jumps: 12.2 percent (to $195,100) and 10.8 percent (to $118,100), respectively.

Metro  Q1 2010 Q1 2011 % Chg.
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C. $173,900 $195,100 12.2%
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. $106,600 $118,100 10.8%
Burlington-South Burlington, Vt. $245,200 $271,200 10.6%
Jackson, Miss. $121,800 $133,900 9.9%
Florence, S.C.  $98,500 $107,600 9.2%
Decatur, Ill. $75,000 $81,300 8.4%
Canton-Massillon, Ohio $81,800 $87,300 6.7%
Columbia, Mo. $139,500 $148,800 6.7%
Shreveport-Bossier City, La.  $146,400 $156,000 6.6%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. $86,400 $91,800 6.3%

Source: NAR

According to a separate NAR survey, distressed homes made up 39 percent of first-quarter sales, up from 36 percent in first-quarter 2010. Distressed homes are typically sold at a discount of about 20 percent, NAR said.

The share of homes sold for $100,000 or less rose 8.9 percent in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2010.

"The biggest sales increase has been in the lower price ranges, which are popular with investors and cash buyers," said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in a statement.

"The preponderance of sales activity at the lower end is bringing down the median price, so what we’re seeing is the result of a change in the composition of home sales."

All-cash buyers accounted for 33 percent of purchases in the first quarter, up from 27 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Investors made up 21 percent of transactions, up from 18 percent during the same period last year.

Repeat buyers accounted for 47 percent of purchases, up from 40 percent in first-quarter 2010. The share of first-time buyers in the marketplace fell to 32 percent, compared with 42 percent at the same time last year, when a federal homebuyer tax credit program fueled sales.

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