The latest monthly report from the Houston Association of Realtors shows that while home sales have continued to trail levels seen one year ago, prices have shown consistent gains.HAR says that sales of single-family homes in March were down 4.4 percent compared to March 2010, when the first-time homebuyer tax credit motivated many buyers to purchase Houston homes earlier in the year instead of waiting until the summer months.In light of this factor, Carlos P. Bujosa, HAR chairman, said the results were “encouraging” despite the apparent decline of sales.”The year-over-year March 2011-March 2010 analysis is a bit skewed in the sense that it continues to reflect a comparison to the period a year ago where the homebuyer tax credit encouraged consumers,” said Carlos P. Bujosa, HAR chairman.Compared to March 2009, when buyers were not affected by the credit, sales were up 6.6 percent.However, strong sales for higher-end properties continued to boost the average home price in the Houston real estate market. According to the report, the average sales price in March $217,597, up 3.3 percent compared to March of last year. It's also the highest average price ever recorded for the month of March.The median home price, on the other hand, slid 1.7 percent compared to last year to $150,900. However, that mark is unchanged compared to last month, showing that local home values are remaining stable.Despite declining sales, the inventory of available properties remained fairly stable at 7.6 months in March. While that's below the six-month standard for a balanced market, it's still better than the national inventory of 8.6 months.Houston foreclosures also continued to make up a significant portion of the market. HAR says that those properties made up 23.5 percent of sales last month, up from less than 22 percent in February. Those heavily discounted homes sold for a median price of just 82,000, which is down more than 7 percent compared to last year.Those foreclosure numbers, while higher than in other parts of the state, are still well below national levels, where the flood of foreclosures has dragged down the average home price nationwide. According to the National Association of Realtors, distressed properties made up 39 percent of sales in February.Courtesy of 2M Realty News?