A new report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that total existing home sales in America, which account for a much larger portion of the overall U.S. housing market than new home sales (due out next Tuesday), jumped by 4.4 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million units. That was much better than expected and the highest reading since February 2007. Regionally, home sales last month fell in the West (-1.6%) but rose in the South (+3.4%), the Midwest (+9.2%), and the Northeast (+10.1%). Total housing inventory rose to 1.83 million existing homes available for sale in March, although this was still 6.6 percent lower compared to a year ago.
The median selling price was $236,400 last month, up 6.8 percent from March 2016 and therefore the 61st consecutive month of annual growth. The headline sales strength last month might have been partially related to the recent, albeit slight, pullback in mortgage rates. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, added that “The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month. Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March for sales to muster a strong gain. Sales will go up as long as inventory does.”
Sources: Econoday, Bloomberg, ZH, NAR, FRBSLPost author: Charles Couch