State sales of existing homes generally fell below those of a year earlier in the first quarter, but a growing number of states are showing improvements, according to the National Association of Realtors.The NAR's metro area home price report found that sales of existing homes (including condominiums) stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.41 million units in the first quarter, down 6.6% from a 6.86-million rate a year earlier. However, the rate was 2.4% higher than the 6.26 million recorded in the fourth quarter. The NAR also reported that the national median resale price stood at $212,300 in the first quarter, down 1.8% from $216,100 a year earlier. "It appears the worst of the price correction is behind us," said NAR president Pat V. Combs, a vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt. "More stable home prices and declining mortgage interest rates are increasing buying power, which should encourage potential buyers who've been on the sidelines." The NAR can be found on the Web at http://www.realtor.org.

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