The number of existing home sales dipped in March from the previous
month, but prices continued to rise, according to the latest data from
the National Association of Realtors.
The volume of sales slipped
0.6 percent from February, but was still 10.3 percent higher than March
a year ago. NAR blamed the month-to-month drop on "inventory
constraints," which also pushed up prices.
The national median
price for an existing home was $184,300 in March, an 11.8 percent
increase from the same month a year ago. The price increase was the
largest year-over-year jump since November, 2005, NAR reports.
Prices have now risen year-over-year for 13 consecutive months
"Buyer traffic is 25 percent above a year ago when we were already
seeing notable gains in shopping activity," NAR chief economist Lawrence
Yun said. "In the same timeframe housing inventories have trended much
lower, which is continuing to pressure home prices."
inventory of houses available for sale actually rose 1.6 percent in
March from the previous month, but was still down 16.8 percent from a
year ago. There is a 4.7-month supply of homes on the market at the
current sales pace, compared to a 6.2-month supply a year ago.
good news is home construction is rising and low mortgage rates are
continuing to keep affordability conditions at historically favorable
levels," Mr. Yun said. "The bad news is that underwriting standards
remain excessively tight, while renters are getting squeezed by higher
Other key takeaways from the NAR report:
homes-foreclosures and short sales -accounted for 21 percent of March
sales, down from 25 percent in February and 29 percent in March 2012.
Thirteen percent of March sales were foreclosures, and 8 percent were
short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 15 percent
below market value in March, while short sales were discounted 13
- The median time on market for all homes
was 62 days in March, down from 74 days in February and is 32 percent
below 91 days in March 2012.Â Short sales were on the market for a
median of 81 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 46 days and
non-distressed homes took 66 days.Â Thirty-seven percent of all homes
sold in March were on the market for less than a month.
- First-time buyers accounted for 30 percent of purchases in March, unchanged from February; they were 33 percent in March 2012.
sales were at 30 percent of transactions in March, down from 32 percent
in February; they were 32 percent in March 2012.Â Individual investors,
who account for most cash sales, purchased 19 percent of homes in
March, down from 22 percent in February; they were 21 percent in March
- Existing-home sales in the West declined 1.7
percent to a pace of 1.18 million in March but are 4.4 percent above a
year ago.Â With notably constrained inventory conditions, the median
price in the West rose to $258,100, up 26.1 percent from March a year
ago, the largest increase among U.S. regions.