The Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS reports that sales of existing homes, including single-family homes, vacation homes, and condominiums, rose to record levels in January of 2008. The Association reported 996 sales in January of 2008 - an 18.9 percent increase over the same period last year, and its strongest January sales report since 2002. This comes on the heels of the Association's report that sales of existing homes in each month of the fourth quarter of 2007 also rose to record levels when compared to 2006. Jim Fase, President of the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS, said that this notable rise in home sales means we will likely see a faster and more meaningful recovery of the local housing industry, which will help to stimulate overall economic activity. "The average price of an existing single-family home in January was $129,500, a reduction that was anticipated in light of the increased number of sales of homes in January that were at or near foreclosure. Subprime loans and other risky mortgage products have virtually disappeared from the marketplace which means that current sales are more stable and will lead to higher home values later in the year," he said. The adjustment in the average price will also enable more first time homebuyers to purchase a home. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) reports that Grand Rapids ranks as the fifth most affordable major housing market in the U.S. This is based on a measurement of the percentage of homes sold in the Grand Rapids area that are affordable to families earning this area's median income. "The steady increase in the number of home sales in this area gives us confidence that we may have turned the corner," Fase concludes.