Total state existing-home sales activity in the third quarter was the highest on record, with 48 states and the District of Columbia posting increases from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The NAR survey showed that nationwide, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing single-family, apartment condominium and co-operative home sales totaled 7.4 million units in the third quarter of this year, up 18.7 percent from a 6.23 million-unit pace in the third quarter of 2002. The previous record was an annual sales rate of 6.70 million recorded in the first quarter of this year; NAR began tracking state home sales in 1981.

David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said this is the first time in 20 years that all available states reported sales increases.

The strongest year-to-year increase was in Nevada where the third-quarter resale pace was 37.6 percent above the third quarter of 2002. Next came Washington, which rose 36.7 percent from a year ago. Arizona posted the third strongest increase, up 29.4 percent from last year's third quarter rate.