Look behind last week's report that existing homes sold in February at an eye-popping pace of 4.75 million units annually. You'll find more good news.

Sales and median home prices rose in all regions, according to the survey by the National Association of Realtors.

"You can look at a map from Boston to Chicago to Los Angeles, the market is strong, and it looks like it's getting stronger," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Regional Financial Associates.

The nationwide surge is in stark contrast to conditions earlier in the decade, when the Northeast and California markets slumped while the Midwest and South prospered.

Steadily appreciating prices help homeowners trade up to larger houses, boosting sales and prices further. Homeowners have also taken advantage of greater home equity to pay off other, more expensive debt with home equity loans or by refinancing their mortgages.

The National Association of Realtors forecasts that more than 4.3 million existing homes will be sold this year, and that median prices will rise nationally by 5%, to $130,400.

The biggest jump in sales and median prices in February was in the South, where the seasonally adjusted annual pace of sales was 1.86 million units, almost 22% higher than a year ago. The median home price, which is not seasonally adjusted, was $110,600, up 9.4% from a year ago.

In the Midwest, the seasonally adjusted annual pace of sales was 1.18 million units, more than 9% above last February's pace. The median home price was $105,400, up 4.5% from February 1997.

The annual sales pace was up 7.4% in the West, to 1.02 million units, and 7.9% in the Northeast, to 680,000 units. Median prices were $162,900 in the West and $146,600 in the Northeast. That represented an increase of 8% from last year in the West and almost 4% in the Northeast.

Nationally, the median price in February was $124,300, up 5.8% from last year.

Mr. Zandi said there is no mystery to why housing markets are uniformly hot. After all, he said, the economy is booming everywhere.

"Unemployment is low everywhere, job growth is strong everywhere, the effects of the booming stock market are reaching every corner of the United States, and of course interest rates are uniformly low," he said.

Also, the housing markets are benefiting from the "catch-up" behavior of the 1990s. Americans who could not afford to buy homes in the 1980s, when mortgage rates and home prices skyrocketed, are doing so now, said David A. Levy, director of forecasting at the Levy Institute Forecasting Center, Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Mr. Levy predicted that even if the economy and stock market lose ground, housing would remain strong, because a crucial support-low interest rates-would remain in place.

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