The median prices of existing homes increased at "respectable rates" during the fourth quarter in most metropolitan areas, but "the rate of growth has cooled," according to the National Association of Realtors.The association's metro area home price report for the fourth quarter found 33 of the 127 areas surveyed with double-digit annual increases in median resale prices, and 22 with "generally small" price declines. "In the third quarter, the median price was 10% above [that of] a year earlier, the strongest rate of appreciation since the fourth quarter of 1980," said NAR chief economist David Lereah. "What we're seeing now is a natural easing after a record pace of home sales in the third quarter." The top rates of year-over-year increases in median resale prices were in the Riverside-San Bernardino area of California, where the median price was up 28.9%, to $239,400; Sarasota, Fla., up 26.1% to $222,100; and the Los Angeles area, up 24.5% to $382,200.

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