Sales of existing homes slowed slightly in March, dipping 3% on a monthly basis to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.57 million, according to numbers released this morning by the National Association of Realtors. Year-over-year, that represents a 7.1% decline in such activity.

Prices also trended downward, declining 12.4% on an annual basis to a median existing-home sale price of $175,200 for all housing types.

Sources at the NAR attributed March’s falling prices to two factors: the influence of distressed sales (i.e., pending foreclosures or bank-owned properties) on home values and the volume of first-time home buyers entering the market. Roughly half the sales in March were “distressed properties,” according to the association, which also found that first-time buyers were involved in 53 percent of its sales, based on a survey of NAR-affiliated real estate agents.

“The housing market always heals from the bottom up,” observed Charles McMillan, a Dallas-Fort Worth broker and NAR’s president.

In terms of inventory, there were 3.74 million existing homes for sale in March, which translates into 9.8 months of supply, which is virtually the same as the previous month.

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

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