March marked the best month for real estate sales since February of 2007, with sales increases of 5.9% over the previous month.
The amount of home buyers for existing homes boomed in March after stumbling unexpectedly in February for various speculated reasons. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said sales of existing single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums, and cooperative apartments were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million, an increase of 4.4% from the adjusted February number of 5.47 million.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun attributed the solid sales during the month to strong gains in the Northeast and Midwest. “Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many home buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March for sales to muster a strong gain. Sales will go up as long as inventory does.”
Sales of single-family homes rose 4.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million from 4.87 in February, marking 6.1% higher sales over the same month in 2016. Condo sales also increased, growing 5.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 630,000 units, a 5.0% annual gain.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was up 6.8% from March of last year. March’s price gains show the 61st consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median existing single-family home price was up 6.6% on an annual basis and the median condo price was up 8.0%.
There was some growth in housing inventory from February. Total available existing homes for sale rose 5.8% to 1.83 million units but that was still a decrease of 6.6% from March, 2016. Inventory has tumbled year-over-year for 22 straight months.
Continuously tight inventories once again shortened marketing time. Properties remained on the market for 34 days in March, a reduction from 45 days in February. Foreclosures sold in 52 days and non-distressed homes lasted only 32 days, which is the shortest since NAR began tracking them in May 2011. Forty-eight percent of homes sold in March were taken off the market in less than a month.
Yun added, “Bolstered by strong consumer confidence and underlying demand, home sales are up convincingly from a year ago nationally and in all four major regions despite the fact that buying a home has gotten more expensive over the past year.”
Existing-home sales increases by region:
- Northeast by 10.1% to an annual rate of 760,000, with median price of $260,800
- Midwest by 9.2% to an annual rate of 1.31 million, with median price of $183,000
- South by 3.4% to 2.42 million units, with median price of $210,600
The West was the only region where sales lagged, down 1.6% from February to an annual rate of 1.22 million. Still they remained 5.2% higher than the previous March. The median price in the West was $347,500.