NAR: Lower prices boost affordability and sales.

The national median existing single-family home price was $163,500 in the fourth quarter, down 4.2% from $170,600 in the fourth quarter of 2010. The median is where half sold for more and half sold for less. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales which sold at discounts averaging 15 to 20% accounted for 30% of fourth quarter sales; they were 34% a year earlier. Total existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, increased 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.42 million in the fourth quarter from 4.17 million in the third quarter, and were 9.2% above the 4.04 million pace during the fourth quarter of 2010. All regions rose from the third quarter and from a year ago.