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Quarterly Home Sales, Prices Fall

Total existing-home sales fell 6.4 percent to 4.70 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008 from 5.02 million units in the third quarter, and they were 5.9 percent below the 5.00-million unit pace recorded in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to the latest quarterly survey by NAR. Home sales rose in only six states, while distressed sales, including foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 45 percent of all transactions during the fourth quarter.

Nevada led all states with an increase in sales of 133.7 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago. California, Arizona and Florida followed with sales gains of 84.7 percent, 42.6 percent, and 12.5 percent, respectively. These were also the states that had the steepest declines in single-family home prices during the housing market downturn.

The national median price of existing single-family homes was $180,100, down 12.4 percent from the median price in the fourth quarter of 2007. The most affordable metro area was Saginaw, Mich., where the median home price was $43,900. The least affordable place was Honolulu, with a median home price of $610,000

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