The market for existing homes continued to show signs of life last month, as sales for such houses rose 2.9% to a seasonally adjusted level of 4.68 million homes, according to data released today by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

“We have record low mortgage interest rates, a wide selection of homes and affordable prices in most areas,” said Charles McMillan, NAR’s president and a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “When you add the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit, it’s hard to imagine a better time to make an investment in your future though homeownership.”

First-time buyers represent an undeniable force in the current housing market, but they may no longer be the only ones; first-time buyers were only involved in 40% of April’s existing-home purchases, according to the NAR, suggesting that repeat home buyers also may be taking advantage of the housing bargains available in this distressed market. NAR also said that buyer traffic appeared to be increasing at existing homes.

Despite that demand, though, prices remain low. The median price for an existing-home (all types, including townhomes, condos, and single-family homes) dropped 15.4% on an annual basis to $170,200 in April. The NAR attributed the price plunge to the influence of distressed properties, which were involved in 45 percent of April’s existing-home sales.

Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine. 

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Dallas, TX.