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Home sales dip in March

Realtors' group says sales by homeowners declined 2%, while home prices tumbled another 7.7%.

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By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of existing homes fell in March, after registering a modest increase the month before, according to a report by an industry group released Tuesday.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales by homeowners fell 2% in March to an annual pace of 4.93 million, down from the February reading of 5.03 million. The number was down 19.3% from 6.11 million a year earlier.

Economists were expecting the measure to fall to an annual pace of 4.92 million.

"Though mortgage rates are at historically low levels, some borrowers are facing restrictive lending practices in declining markets," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

With a large number of homes to choose from, many buyers are biding their time, he added.

The median price of a home sold during the month fell 7.7% to $200,700 from $217,400 a year earlier. In February, the median home price fell 8.2%, which was the largest year-over-year price drop on record.

Overall, the median home price has now tumbled 12.8% since the record high reached in July 2006.

Home prices in the West fell 14.7% to $285,100, which helped spur a 2.2% increase in home sales in that region.

Sales also increased 2.2% in the Northeast, where home prices rose 4.6%. To top of page

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