U.S. home sale prices were essentially flat in March, ticking down by just 0.1% annually to a median of $295,100, according to a new report from Redfin. The median price reflects activity in the 85 larger markets Redfin tracks; the National Association of Realtors put its March median price, which is derived from actual sales nationally, at $259,400.

Although slight, Redfin noted this is the first year-over-year price decrease since February 2012, when the median home sale price bottomed out at $171,600. Nine of the 85 largest metro areas Redfin tracks saw a year-over-year decline in their median price, including a 13% drop in San Jose and a 1% dip in San Francisco. These and other expensive West Coast markets, including Los Angeles, Orange County, and Seattle, posted double-digit year-over-year declines in the number of homes sold while several large affordable markets on the East Coast saw big annual sales gains.

As housing market activity shifted from more to less expensive places, the national median price shifted to reflect the homes that sold last month.

"Home buyers have backed off in West Coast metros where home prices have risen far out of their budgets," said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. "The opposite is happening in more affordable metros where buyers are eager to buy now to take advantage of low mortgage rates. In California, where the tax burden is high, some people are finding they have to move out of state to afford to buy a home. As a result, home sales are down in metros throughout the state."

Though home sales increased 2% overall, there was a lot of variation among metro areas. The number of homes sold fell in 37 of the 85 largest metro areas that Redfin tracks, while 24 metro areas saw double-digit increases in home sales compared to a year earlier. Home sales tended to decrease in more expensive metro areas, while home sales surged in some of the least expensive metros.

Biggest Gains in Home Sales, March 2019
Biggest Declines in Home Sales, March 2019
Rank Metro Area Year-Over-Year Sales Median Price
Rank Metro Area Year-Over-Year Sales Median Price
1 Camden, NJ 56.2% $180,000
1 Salt Lake City, UT -21% $320,000
2 Baltimore, MD 34.5% $255,000
2 Los Angeles, CA -19.4% $620,000
3 Allentown, PA 24.9% $184,700
3 Las Vegas, NV -18.8% $280,000
4 Orlando, FL 23.5% $249,900
4 Orange County, CA -16.4% $700,000
5 Newark, NJ 22.7% $328,900
5 Fresno, CA -16% $275,000
6 Memphis, TN 20.2% $165,000
6 Oxnard, CA -15.6% $600,000
7 Tampa, FL 19.3% $225,000
7 Seattle, WA -15% $560,000
8 Warren, MI 18.7% $205,000
8 Riverside, CA -14.3% $370,000
9 New York, NY 18.2% $383,625
9 San Jose, CA -14.3% $1,115,000
10 Pittsburgh, PA 16.7% $162,000
10 San Francisco, CA -13.7% $1,400,000
Average $233,913
Average $624,000

On average, the metro areas that saw the biggest declines in home sales were more than 2.5 times as expensive as the metro areas where sales surged. The cheapest of the 10 metro areas where sales declined (Fresno, $275,000) was still more expensive than eight of the top 10 metros where sales surged. "Salt Lake City and Las Vegas experienced rapid home price growth in 2017 and 2018," explained Fairweather. "Even though these metros are still affordable to Californians, home sales are likely down because it has become harder for locals to afford to buy homes."

Market Summary March 2019 Month- Over- Month Year- Over-Year

Median sale price $295,100 2.6% -0.1%

Homes sold 259,100 39.1% 2%

New listings 353,400 27.9% -2.8%
All Homes for sale 800,400 3.2% 3.6%

Median days on market 49 -10 1

Months of supply 3.1 -1.1 0.1

Sold above list 20.00% 1.6% -4.5%

Median Off-Market Redfin Estimate $299,000 0.3% 6.2%

Average Sale-to-list 97.90% 0.3% -0.6%

The number of homes for sale at the end of the month was up 3.6% from a year earlier in March. The number of homes newly listed for sale fell 2.8% from March 2018. Home-selling speeds were largely unchanged from a year earlier nationally, increasing just one day to a median of 49 days on market. In March, 20% of homes sold above the list price, down from 24.5% in March 2018. Meanwhile 22.5% of homes on the market in March had a price drop, up from March 2018's share of 20.2%.