The 2016 home buying season began in March with a 33.4% jump in sales from February among the 53 metro areas surveyed for the RE/MAX National Housing Report, which is a little better than the 31.0% seven-year average of February to March increases. March sales were also 3.6% greater than sales one year ago. So far in 2016, the average year-over-year increase in home sales has been 4.9%. The median price among the Median Sales Prices of the markets in the survey in March was $204,000, which was the same median price reported in March 2015. The inventory of homes for sale remains very tight in many markets across the country, with March seeing a level that is 13.3% lower than a year ago, the exact same difference seen in February. At the rate of home sales in March, the national Months Supply of inventory was 3.2, down from 3.7 in March 2015.
"March is marking a strong kick-off for this year's home-selling season. After a long winter, demand for homes remains high, with large numbers of home buyers coming into the market. Last year was one of the best years in real estate in a long time, and March sales are pushing even higher. Low inventory is still a stubborn issue in many markets, but overall it doesn't seem to be moving prices significantly higher," said Dave Liniger, RE/MAX CEO, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder.
"It's not always easy for homeowners to keep their finger on the pulse of their equity. This data shows homes have continued to increase in value since the depths experienced after the last recession. Those increases mean far fewer Americans have negative equity in their homes. This increases their mobility and is a positive development for all segments of the housing market," added Bob Walters, Quicken Loans, Chief Economist.
Closed Transactions – Year-over-year change
In the 53 metro areas surveyed in March, the average number of home sales was 3.6% higher than one year ago, and 33.4% higher than the previous month. March home sales usually rise significantly above February sales, with an average monthly increase over the last seven years of 31.0%. Like February, March home sales appeared to be especially strong in the northeast, in cities like Boston, Providence and Hartford. Across the nation in March, 37 of the 53 metro areas surveyed reported higher sales on a year-over-year basis, with 10 experiencing double-digit increases, including Manchester, NH +51.4%, Hartford, CT +21.9%, Boston, MA +21.5%, Providence, RI +20.3%, Augusta, ME +19.7% and Trenton, NJ +19.5%.
Median Sales Price – A Median Price of 53 Metro Median Prices
The median Median Sales Price for homes sold, among the markets covered in the survey, in March was $204,000, up 2.5% from February, but the same as the median price reported in March 2015. With an unchanged year-over-year Median price, March is the 50th consecutive month without a price drop. In 2015, of year-over year price increases averaged 7.6% per month. Moderating price increases have a positive impact on home affordability. Among the 53 metro areas surveyed in March, 44 reported higher prices than last year, with 6 rising by double-digit percentages: Portland, OR +16.1%, Augusta, ME +13.6%, Providence, RI +12.2%, Tampa, FL +11.0%, Denver, CO +10.5% and Nashville, TN +10.5%.
Days on Market – Average of 53 metro areas
The average Days on Market for homes sold in the metro areas in the survey March was 71, down 4 days from the average in February, and 7 days lower than the average in March 2015. March becomes the 36th consecutive month with a Days on Market average of 80 or less. The two markets with the lowest inventory supply, Denver and San Francisco also had the lowest Days on Market at 33 and 25 respectively. The highest Days on Market averages were seen in Augusta, ME (165), Des Moines, IA (111) and Trenton, NJ (111). Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.
Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 53 metro areas
The average number of homes for sale in the metro areas surveyed March was 1.0% lower than in February and 13.3% lower than in March 2015. The short supply of inventory appears to be continuing in 2016. The average loss of inventory on a year-over-year basis in 2015 was 12.2%. Based on the rate of home sales in March, the Months Supply of Inventory was 3.2, which was lower than the 4.0 month supply in February and the 3.7 supply in March last year. A 6.0 month supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. The number of metros with an inventory below 2 months has jumped significantly. While January and February saw 5 and 6 metros below 2, March is reporting 11 metros with a supply less than 2 months, including Denver, CO 1.0, San Francisco 1.0, Seattle, WA 1.0, Portland, OR 1.3, Providence, RI 1.3 and Omaha, NE 1.4.