The lure of more affordable homes spurred first-time homebuyers, but reduced prices on foreclosures and short sales drove down metropolitan-area median home prices in the first quarter, the National Association of Realtors said.

All but 18 of the 152 metro statistical areas reported lower median existing single-family home prices in comparison with the first quarter of 2008, as many buyers sought deeply discounted distressed sales — foreclosures and short sales — accounting for nearly half of transactions in the first quarter and weighed down median home prices in most markets.

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