Existing home sales fall 3.7% in March

Year-over-year sales fell in all 4 regions of the US

WASHINGTON — Year-over-year existing home sales fell in March with all four regions of the country posting declines.

According to data released late last week by the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales fell 3.7% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.19 million, compared to 4.35 million in March 2023. Existing home sales also fell 4.3% from 4.38 million in February.

The NAR said that monthly year-over-year sales fell in all four regions and fell in the Midwest, South and West from February, but rose in the Northeast from February.

The figures include sales of single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes and co-ops, with the median existing home price for all housing types at $393,500, up 4.8% from $375,000 in March 2023. All four regions posted price increases, the NAR said.

Single-family home sales declined to a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.8 million, which was down 2.8% from March 2023 and down 4.3% from February. Meanwhile, the median single-family home price was $397,200, up 4.7% from March 2023.

March existing condominium and co-op sales dropped 11.4%, to 390,000 units, from 440,000 units in March 2023, and down 4.9% from February. The median existing condominium price was $357,400, up from $337,900 in March 2023, a 5.8% increase.

“Though rebounding from cyclical lows, home sales are stuck because interest rates have not made any major moves,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, adding that there are nearly 6 million more jobs now compared to pre-Covid highs, a sign that there are more aspiring homebuyers in the market.

The NAR said that total housing inventory was 1.11 million units by the end of March, which was up 14.4% from the 970,00 units in inventory a year ago and up 4.7% from February. The amount of unsold inventory is at a 3.2-month supply based on the current sales pace, which is up from 2.7 months in March 2023 and 2.9 months in February.

By region, the activity was as follows:

+ In the Northeast, existing home sales totaled 500,000, down 3.8 from March 2023, but up 4.2% from February. The median sale price in the Northeast was $434,600, up 9.9% from March 2023.

+ In the Midwest, sales totaled 1.01 million, down 1% from March 2023 and down 1.9% from February. The median sales price in the region was $292,400, up 7.5% from March 2023.

+ In the South, sales totaled 1.9 million, down 5% from last year and down 5.9% from February. The median sales price in the region was $359,100, up 3.4% from March 2023.

+ In the West, home sales totaled 780,000 in March, down 3.7% from March 2023 and down 8.2% from February. The median sales price was $603,000, up 6.7% from last year.

Other highlights from the report were as follows:

+ Properties were on the market for 33 days in March, up from 29 days in March 2023, but down from 38 days in February.

+ First-time buyers accounted for 32% of sales in March, up from 28% in March 2023 and up from 26% in February.

+ All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions in March, up from 27% in March 2023, but down from 33% in February. Individual investors or second-home buyers that make up for many cash sales purchased 15% of homes in March, down 17% from March 2023, and down from 27% in February.

+ Distressed sales, including foreclosures and short sales, represented 2% of sales in March, unchanged from last year and February.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 6.88% on April 11 according to Freddie Mac. This was up from 6.82% the previous week and 6.27% the year prior.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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