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Existing-home sales in U.S. jumped 4.4% in March

Staff Writer |
Existing-home sales took off in March to their highest pace in over 10 years.

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Severe supply shortages resulted in the typical home coming off the market significantly faster than in February and a year ago.

This is according to the National Association of Realtors. Only the West saw a decline in sales activity in March.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, ascended 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million in March from a downwardly revised 5.47 million in February.

March's sales pace is 5.9 percent above a year ago and surpasses January as the strongest month of sales since February 2007 (5.79 million).

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $236,400, up 6.8 percent from March 2016 ($221,400).

March's price increase marks the 61st consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of March increased 5.8 percent to 1.83 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 6.6 percent lower than a year ago (1.96 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 22 straight months.

Unsold inventory is at a 3.8-month supply at the current sales pace (unchanged from February).

Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in March, which is down significantly from 45 days in February and 47 days a year ago.

Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 90 days in March, while foreclosures sold in 52 days and non-distressed homes took 32 days (shortest since NAR began tracking in May 2011).

Forty-eight percent of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from realtor.com reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in March were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 24 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 25 days; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., both at 28 days; and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., 31 days.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose for the fifth straight month in March to 4.20 percent from 4.17 percent in February. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in March, which is unchanged from February and up from 30 percent a year ago.

NAR's 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20164 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.


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