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CONDO SALES HIT HIGHEST LEVEL IN TWO YEARS

 CONDO SALES HIT HIGHEST LEVEL IN TWO YEARS
 WASHINGTON, May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The pace of previously owned


apartment condominium and co-operative sales during January, February and March reached the highest level in two years, according to the National Association of Realtors. The annual rate(A) of 371,000 units rose 13.1 percent from the same period in 1991 and posted the highest level since the first quarter of 1990.
 Declining mortgage interest rates are bringing more first- time buyers into the market, said NAR President Dorcas T. Helfant. "Affordability conditions are the best we've seen since the late '70s, and now that consumer confidence is being restored, people who were priced-out of the market in the past are taking advantage of low interest rates and attractive prices," she said.
 According to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., the national average commitment rate for 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgages was 8.7 percent during the first quarter. "In fact, interest rates during the last six months have been at the lowest level since the first quarter of 1977," Helfant said.
 The median price of existing condos and co-ops was $84,100 during the first quarter, rising a modest 2.4 percent from a year earlier. However, there were wide regional variations in both prices and sales.
 NAR Chief Economist John A. Tuccillo notes lifestyle considerations are bigger factors in the Midwest and South, while affordability plays a bigger role in more expensive markets in the Northeast and on the West coast. "For people in high-cost markets, condos and co-ops make the difference between renting and owning for many first-time buyers," Tuccillo said.
 In the Northeast, the resale rate of 76,000 units rose 28.8 percent from the first quarter of 1991. The median condo price in the region was $100,900 during the first quarter, slipping 2.0 percent from a year earlier.
 The resale pace in the Midwest was 73,000 units during the first quarter, rising 23.7 percent over the same period in 1991. The regional median existing condo price was $74,100, which is 5.4 percent higher than a year earlier.
 Southern condo and co-op sales reached an annual rate of 119,000 units during the quarter, rising 9.2 percent from the first quarter of 1991. The median price was $68,900, up 4.9 percent in the last year.
 In the West, the resale pace was 103,000 units in the first quarter, up 6.2 percent from a year earlier. The median condo/co-op price was $114,700 during the first quarter, rising 14.5 percent from a year ago. "The strong condo price increase in the West tells us there is a supply problem in some areas," Tuccillo said.
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing more than 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
 (A) The annual rate for a particular quarter represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative resale pace were maintained for four consecutive quarters.
 Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, sales are normally higher in the summer and relatively light in winter, primarily because of differences in weather and changing demographic patterns.
 -0- 5/4/92
 /CONTACT: Lois Clinton, 202-383-1016, or Walter Molony, 202-383-1177, both of the National Association of Realtors/ CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO


TW -- DC003 -- 5839 05/04/92 08:44 EDT
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Date:May 4, 1992
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