A Look at National Home Sales
Existing-home sales grew for the second consecutive month in March but lagging inventory levels and affordability constraints kept sales activity below year ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Total existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million in March from 5.54 million in February. Despite this month's increase, sales are still 1.2 percent below a year ago.
Closings in March eked forward despite challenging market conditions in most of the country. Per Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist: "Robust gains for March 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 percent from March 2017 ($236,600). March's price increase marks the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of March climbed 5.7 percent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 7.2 percent 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).
In the Midwest, existing-home sales increased 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in March, but are still 1.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $192,200, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.
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. Throughout the country markets are seeing the seasonal ramp-up in buyer demand this spring but without the commensurate increase in new listings coming onto the market. As a result, competition is swift, and homes are going under contract in roughly a month, which is four days faster than last year and 17 days faster than March 2016.