Homes sales in 49 states rebounded during the fourth quarter of 2010, a sign that the housing market is gaining ground in its recovery. Fourth-quarter existing home and condo sales increased 15.4% to 4.8 million homes from 4.16 million the previous quarter, according to the latest research by the National Realtors Association. Sales were still down 19.5% compared to the fourth quarter of 2009 when homebuying activity was spurred by the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Distressed property sales accounted for 34% of all existing home sales in the fourth quarter. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the sales data is encouraging and points to signs of a recovery in the market. "Even with the foreclosures continuing to enter the inventory pipeline, they've been selling well and housing supplies have trended down," he said. "A recovery to normalcy requires steady trimming of the inventories." He added that an improving housing market will undoubtedly influence growth in the job market. NAR reported the national median home sale price for the last quarter at $170,600, up 0.2% from the same period a year prior. Prices rose in more than half of the 152 MSAs tracked by the data firm, while prices dropped in 71 MSAs and prices stayed flat in three. Elmira, N.Y. witnessed the biggest gain in home sale prices, up 16.5% over the fourth quarter 2009 to $101,100. Cumberland, Md.-W. Va., saw the biggest price depreciation, down 20.2% to $87,700. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her @HWnewbieCR.