Meanwhile, the median price for an existing single-family home is down from last year's levels, but prices aren't falling as fast as they were last quarter. The national median existing single-family home price was $212,300 in the first quarter, down 1.8% from last year's $216,100, NAR said. In the fourth quarter, the median price fell 2.7% from the year earlier.
Prices of existing single-family homes in the first-quarter rose in 82 of 145 metro areas, including 11 areas that logged double-digit gains; 62 metro areas saw price declines and one was unchanged. During the fourth-quarter, 71 areas had reported price gains.
“Essentially, we see that the existing-home market is stabilizing in a broad cyclical trough and moving in the right direction, with a modest gain from the fourth quarter," Lawrence Yun, NAR's senior economist, said in a statement. "Conditions changed fairly rapidly during the boom, but we need more patience now to see a slow, gradual recovery, which should start in the second half of this year.”
But CNBC's Diana Olick says it might be too soon to throw around the word "stabilization." Olick reports that foreclosure filings continued at a brisk pace: there were 147,708 filings in April, down 1% from the month prior, but up a whopping 62% from April of 2006, according to RealtyTrac.
"We were disappointed that we only saw a one percent dip in April in terms of foreclosure activity," Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac told CNBC. "For the last two years we've done the report we saw a bigger dip in April than we have this year. This year, effectively, the numbers are flat."