Existing-Home Sales Rose 1.1% in March
Washington, DC, April 23, 2018-Total existing-home sales rose 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million in March from 5.54 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. Despite last month's increase, sales are still 1.2% below a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings in March eked forward despite challenging market conditions in most of the country. "Robust gains last month in the Northeast and Midwest-a reversal from the weather-impacted declines seen in February-helped overall sales activity rise to its strongest pace since last November at 5.72 million," said Yun. "The unwelcoming news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year ago levels because supply is woefully low and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford."
The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $250,400, up 5.8% from March 2017 ($236,600). March's price increase marks the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains.
"Although the strong job market and recent tax cuts are boosting the incomes of many households, speedy price growth is squeezing overall affordability in several markets – especially those out West," said Yun.
Total housing inventory at the end of March climbed 5.7% to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale but is still 7.2% lower than a year ago (1.80 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 34 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace (3.8 months a year ago).
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate (link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased for the sixth straight month to 4.44% in March (highest since 4.46% in December 2013) from 4.33% in February. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99%.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 30 days in March, which is down from 37 days in February and 34 days a year ago. Fifty percent of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month.