The latest data from the National Association of Realtors puts the region of Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties in limited company.

Median single-family home prices here dipped 5 percent to $210,100 in the first quarter, compared with sale prices in the same period in 2012. Nationally, the real estate market reported an 11 percent increase.

That put the region among 17 out of 150 U.S. metropolitan areas where median prices did not rise, NAR data said. The median price means half of homes sold for more, half for less.

George Phy, broker/owner at Century 21 Glencove-Morris in Mays Landing, said distressed properties now account for nearly half of sales.

“The only swing I see is the nondistressed inventory is low, and that’s where buyers now are starting to make a bid sooner rather than later,” he said.

Phy said he believes uncertainty with the region’s job picture is still weighing on the market.

“I think it’s the job security. Do we know if we’ll be employed in the next couple months? I think our area’s still not out of the woods with job security,” he said. “It probably is a lot about the economy, and hopefully we’re getting out of the bottom, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Phy said his personal sales in the first quarter were down a little, but the office’s second quarter numbers have been a great improvement so far.

Median home prices in the region have dipped and risen quarterly since the recession, and there is little surprise that single-family homes are not fetching anywhere near the values they did six years ago.

The median single-family sale price in the region was $253,300 in 2008 and then $221,300 by 2009.

Jarrod Grasso, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Association of Realtors, indicated Hurricane Sandy may have affected recent sales.

“With many areas still recovering from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, coupled with a long winter, which typically sees less sales activity, we are optimistic that the home sales prices will continue to stabilize,” Grasso said in a statement.

Some New Jersey metro areas, including ones encompassing Newark and Trenton, saw first-quarter increases from the same period in 2012.

The New Jersey Association of Realtors’ latest breakdown by individual county is from the fourth quarter of 2012.

Those figures put the median single-family home sale price at $220,000 in Atlantic County, $340,300 in Cape May County and $133,000 in Cumberland County.

Mary Lou Ferry, the owner of Farley & Ferry Realty in Ventnor, said she has seen buyer activity increase this year from the same period last year.

“People are taking into consideration a lot of different factors, the locations, the conditions. They’re very educated buyers, and there are a lot of cash buyers out there. They have their funds and they’re going to proceed,” she said.

The secondary home market typically starts to heat up in February and can run through June, Ferry said.

“It’s all about the price,” she said. “We had a house that sat on our block forever, the price was dropped, an investor came in and he’s going to totally renovate it.”

A separate county-level measurement this past week, this one by the California-based data and analytics company CoreLogic, gauged regional home prices in March.

CoreLogic said March home prices rose 2 percent in Cape May County and 3 percent in Atlantic County, compared with March 2012. The company’s figures said Cumberland County home prices declined 1 percent. Nationally, the increase was about 11 percent.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.