Home sales have continued to grow this year with an increase of 1.1% seen in March across the nation per the National Association of Realtors. The amount of growth is still below last year’s numbers as inventory challenges have made activity difficult.
Total home sales of single-families, townhomes and condos has increased by 1.1% to 5.6 million in March from 5.54 in February. 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 home price for all housing types for March was $250,400 which was up by 5.8% from last year at this same time. This has made for the 73rd straight month for year-over-year increases. “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 has increased 5.7% by the end of March, but is still 7.2% lower than one year ago at this time. This marks the 34th consecutive month for declining housing levels which is now at a 3.6 months supply.
According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates are now averaging at 4.44 percent for a 30 year conventional fixed rate. The average commitment for all of the year 2017 was a little lower at 3.99%.
The average time spent on the market for homes for sale was 30 days in March which was down from February at 37 and also from 34 from 2017. Half of the homes that were sold in March were on the market for less than a month.
“Realtors® throughout the country are seeing the seasonal ramp-up in buyer demand this spring but without the commensurate increase in new listings coming onto the market,” said Yun. “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 a remarkable 17 days faster than March 2016.”