RTTNews - Existing home sales showed healthy gains for the second quarter of 2009, as sales rose 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.76 million units, according to data released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors.

This number is still below the rate of 4.90 million units that was reported in the second quarter of 2008, but, the data released was mainly positive, and it showed that price declines increased affordability in most metro areas.

The data also showed that 39 states experienced increases from the first quarter, and that nine states were at higher rates than they were a year ago.

With low interest rates, lower home prices and a first-time buyer tax credit, we've been seeing healthy increases in home sales, which are a hopeful sign for the economy, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement.

Yun added that there had been sustained sales gains in states such as Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Nebraska. He also said that there were strong double digit gains in Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, Indiana, South Dakota and Montana.

The economist also said that the rise in home sales will pump an additional $63,000 into the economy.

In addition, sales are drawing down inventory, and that will help stabilize home values, which in turn will lessen foreclosure pressure and boost credit availability for other sectors of the economy, he said.

However, data also showed that 129 out of 155 statistical areas reported lower median existing single family home prices, while 26 areas showed price gains. The median prices were most likely down because foreclosures and short sales--which are typically sold at a 15 to 20 percent discount--accounted for 36 percent of transactions in the second quarter. Price declines were sharpest in areas of California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

The largest increase in single-family home price was in the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island area of Iowa and Illinois. The median price of $113,200 rose 30.6 percent from a year ago.

Breaking down the data in the increases in sales among the states, Idaho posted the largest gain, up 67.5 percent from the first quarter. Hawaii rose 24.2 percent, New York rose 22.3 percent, Wisconsin rose 21.7 percent, and Nebraska rose 20.3 percent. Twelve other states also posted double-digit gains

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