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Did Long Island home sales rise higher than they thought?

Home sales on the Island grew 29 percent in March from a year ago, or 1,355 sales compared to 1,052 a year ago, according to a recent report from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.

That increase might be even more dramatic if MLSLI had made an apples-to-apples comparison of numbers.

Instead, the group has been having growing pains in shifting the job of calculating figures from in-house to a Minnesota-based company.

In the past, each month's data were pulled from MLS on the fifth day or so of the next month. That did not capture all sales for the month because some agents entered transactions late.

But the MLS report last week took the March 2009 number that reflected all sales and compared it to a March 2010 number that reflected just the sales in the system as of April 7.

Newsday has dug up the old March numbers, based on closings pulled from MLS on April 5 or so, from the file cabinets just for you:

There were 982 closings in March 2009. That means last month's closings rose 38 percent from a year ago.

A quick look at the past 12 months shows it's one of the biggest, year-ago increases.

The March increase is perhaps second only to last November, when house hunters raced to meet the original tax credit deadline, pushing sales up 49 percent from November 2008, a slow time because Wall Street had just collapsed.

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