WASHINGTON – Low mortgage rates coupled with a strong demand for homes resulted in a new record in the first quarter of 2003 of existing home sales. According to the National Association of Realtors, 34 states experienced sales increases for the three month period compared to the the first quarter 2002. The NAR's report showed that 14 states and the District of Columbia reported "generally modest" declines in the annual sales activity rate from the previous year. Nationwide, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of total existing homes sales was a record 6.68 million homes in the first quarter, up 2.2% from the 6.52 million unions in the first quarter of 2002. The previous record was set in the fourth quarter of 2002 with 6.59 million units. The strongest year-to-year increase was in Nevada. The resale pace went up 28.5% compared with the first quarter 2002. Hawaii was in second place with a 28.2% increase, and South Dakota was third – up 20.1%. Regionally, the South experienced the highest increase in existing-home sales – 2.73 million units in the first quarter, up 5% from 2002. The Midwest showed a 1% increase. Missouri came in fourth throughout the U.S. – sales activity was up 19.1% from the first quarter of 2002. Kansas ranked next – up 15.9% – followed by Nebraska, up 10.3% The West showed a modest increase of 0.6% compared to the first quarter 2002. Existing home sales in the Northeast, meanwhile, dropped 1.8% from the first quarter 2002.

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