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FIRST-QUARTER HOME RESALES UP IN MOST STATES, NAR SAYS

 FIRST-QUARTER HOME RESALES UP IN MOST STATES, NAR SAYS
 WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Affordable interest rates and reviving consumer confidence boosted resale activity in 45 states during 1992's first quarter, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported today.
 According to the association's latest quarterly survey of sales of previously owned homes, 44 states posted increases from the first quarter of 1991 to the first quarter of 1992. The increases ranged from 1.6 percent in West Virginia to 46.7 percent in New Hampshire. Only two states and the District of Columbia posted declines, and one state remained unchanged from a year ago. Figures were not available for Alaska and Maine.
 NAR President Dorcas T. Helfant said the first-quarter sales figures are even better than expected, but not a total surprise, given the low interest rates that have prevailed in the last six to nine months. "Because we are seeing the lowest rates in more than 15 years, buyers all over the country are responding accordingly, realizing they no longer can pass up the affordable opportunities out there."
 Nationwide, the survey showed an increase of 11.3 percent from first quarter to first quarter to a seasonally adjusted annual resale rate(A) of 3.77 million units for the period covering January, February and March of this year. The survey covered sales of existing single-family detached homes, town houses, apartment condominiums and co-operatives. Helfant said the resale rate shows the beginnings of a sustained recovery -- driven by interest rates -- starting with the housing sector.
 Additionally, all four regions posted overall sales increases from first quarter to first quarter. NAR Executive Vice President Dr. Almon R. "Bud" Smith noted that the housing rebound is embracing the entire country. "We're seeing more than just a few isolated housing markets getting back on their feet -- it looks more like a full-blown housing recovery, as evidenced by across-the-board increases."
 In the Northeast, the first-quarter sales rate was up 15.1 percent from one year ago. Smith said it is extremely encouraging that every state in this region posted increases, and every state, except New York, posted increases in the double digits. New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island each posted year-to-year improvements of more than 40 percent.
 The Midwest posted a 13.4 percent sales increase from first quarter to first quarter, with all 12 states in the region reporting improvements. South Dakota, the midwestern state with the largest increase in resales, boasted a 37.3 percent increase from the first quarter of 1991. Missouri followed, with 30.1 percent, and Minnesota was up 28.5 percent.
 Smith said housing markets should continue the revival seen so far this year. "Last year, lower rates boosted sales, but the rally was all adrenaline and collapsed quickly. This time around, a reviving economy will give the housing rally muscle enough to pace itself through the year."
 The South posted a 7.2 percent increase, with 15 states reporting improvements. Only Georgia and the District of Columbia reported declines. North Carolina's existing-home sales led the way for the South, shooting up 23.7 percent from the first quarter of 1991. Ten additional states -- Mississippi, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Delaware, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maryland and South Carolina -- posted double-digit increases.
 The West posted a first quarter to first-quarter improvement of 11.7 percent. Ten states recorded increases, eight of which were in the double-digits. Montana led the way with a sharp 46.1 percent rise; Utah followed with 26.6 percent; Wyoming, 24.6 percent; New Mexico, 24.5 percent; Idaho, 21.1 percent; Washington, 18.3 percent; Arizona, 12.9 percent; California, 10.6 percent; Hawaii 5.7 percent; and Nevada, 2.0 percent. Oregon's sales pace declined 18.8 percent and Colorado's pace remained unchanged from a year ago.
 Helfant noted that in addition to affordable interest rates, another bright spot this year has been inflation, which should remain in check in 1992. She predicted that during the second half of 1992, we will see sustained growth with moderate interest rates. "We will inch along rather than cruise, which, in the long-run, may be healthier. The overall growth rate may be lower than we like, but it will be clear that growth, not recession, will win the day," she 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 seasonally adjusted annual rate for a particular quarter represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative resale pace for that quarter were maintained for the year's four consecutive quarters.
 Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting quarterly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume normally is higher in the summer and relatively light in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather.
 -0- 5/6/92
 /CONTACT: Lois Clinton, 202-383-1016, Cheryl Spector, 202-383-1135, or Val Allridge, 202-383-1195, all of the National Association of Realtors/ CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO


MH-DC -- DC007 -- 6904 05/06/92 08:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 6, 1992
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