Existing home sales--including single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops--jumped 5.1% in March, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million, according to a National Association of Realtors release Wednesday morning.
"Closings came back in force last month as a greater number of buyers – mostly in the Northeast and Midwest – overcame depressed inventory levels and steady price growth to close on a home," said Laurence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Buyer demand remains sturdy in most areas this spring and the mid-priced market is doing quite well."
Sales of existing single-family homes also rebounded in March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.76 million, up 5.5% month-over-month, and 2.6% year-over-year. This is following a 7.2% dip in February, when existing home sales were adversely affected by low housing inventory (and the resulting impact on prices) .
The strong rebound in single-family sales is largely driven by big gains in the Northeast and Midwest; sales in both regions increased over 10% month-over-month. Existing home sales increased most month-over-month in the Northeast, with 11.3% growth, followed by the Midwest (10.6%), West (3.0%), and South (2.6%). By sales volume, the South is by far the biggest market for existing single-family homes.
Pre-owned single-family homes became pricier, too, with the median price rising 5.8% year-over-year to $224,300. Existing homes were most expensive in the West region, with a median price of $322,000, followed by the Northeast ($257,300), South ($197,800), and Midwest ($175,700).
Supply limitations and pricing growth has slowed home sales in both the low and high end price range, notes Yun. The following is a breakdown of percent change by price range in the existing single-family market.
Total housing inventory at the end of March increased 5.9 percent to 1.98 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 1.5 percent lower than a year ago (2.01 million). Unsold inventory is at a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.4 months in February.
"The choppiness in sales activity so far this year is directly related to the unevenness in the rate of new listings coming onto the market to replace what is, for the most part, being sold rather quickly," added Yun. "Additionally, a segment of would-be buyers at the upper end of the market appear to have been spooked by January's stock market correction."
Read the full release on NAR >>