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Home sales rates are down but median prices are still increasing across the nation, according to a report on the National Association of Realtors Web site today.

Total existing sales were down 1.2 percent from April to May, the organization reported. Sales were also down 6.6 percent over the previous year.

David Lereah, the organization’s chief economist, is quoted on the Web site:

There’s now a clear pattern of slower home-sales activity in many higher cost markets, which are more sensitive to rises in interest rates, and higher home sales in moderately priced areas which have experienced job growth. Although mortgage interest rates remain historically low, the uptrend in interest rates this year is affecting those buyers who are at the margins of affordability.

The average median existing home price nationwide was up 6 percent in May 2006 from a year earlier. That’s a lower appreciation rate than the double-digit year-on-year price increases the nation’s seen for the last few years, but Lereah categorized the single-digit appreciation rate as “normal.”

Overall price appreciation has returned to normal levels as the supply of homes on the market has risen to a balanced range,

However, the Web site does note that the inventory level – that’s the number of unsold homes – nationwide have risen 5.5 percent. That’s a much smaller increase than we’ve seen in San Diego, as anyone who’s been reading this blog knows.

WILL CARLESS

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