Existing Home Sales Down 2.6% In March
Existing-home sales for March were down 2.6% from February to an annual pace of 4.48 million. Sales are 5.2% higher than year-ago levels, as Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the recovery is in the process of settling into a higher level of home sales. “The recovery is happening though not at a breakout pace, but we have seen nine consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases,” he said. “Existing-home sales are moving up and down in a fairly narrow range that is well above the level of activity during the first half of last year. With job growth, low interest rates, bargain home prices and an improving economy, the pent-up demand is coming to market and we expect housing to be notably better this year.”
Total housing inventory at the end of March dropped 1.3% to 2.37 million existing homes. March’s 6.3 month supply is the same as the previous month while listed inventory is 21.8% lower than last year.
Yun said the association was seeing a lack of inventory as the problem for falling sales, with supply not matching the increased demand.
The median existing-home price was 2.5% higher than last March at $163,800. Distressed homes sales were 29% of total monthly sales, down from 34% and 40% in February and March 2011 respectively.
Interest rates are rising, but still remain low with the national average at 3.95%, up from February’s record low 3.89%. First-time buyers stay steady in their percentage of transactions, at 33% for March after 32% in February and 33% in March 2011. Single-family home sales dropped 2.5% to a 3.97 million annual pace, but are up 5.9% compared to March 2011.
Existing condo and co-op sales fell 3.8% month-over-month. By region, the West reported the greatest monthly decline in home sales, falling 7.4%. The Northeast followed behind with a 1.7% decrease along with the South dropping 1.1%. The Midwest showed no monthly change.
Source: National Association of Realtors