Despite Lack Of Inventory, Job Creation And Low Rates Buoyed Home Sales In Q1

The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $217,600, an increase of 6.3% compared with $204,700 in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

What’s more, it was an increase of 6.7% compared with the fourth quarter of 2014.

The average home price increased in 87% of markets tracked by NAR, with 154 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas showing gains based on closed sales compared with the first quarter of 2015.

However, 24 markets – or 13% – recorded lower median prices from a year earlier.

As of the end of the first quarter, total existing-home sales, including sales of single-family homes and condos, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million, an increase of 1.7% compared with 5.20 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 and an increase of 4.8% compared with 5.05 million in the first quarter of 2015.

“The solid run of sustained job creation and attractive mortgage rates below four percent spurred steady demand for home purchases in many local markets,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, in a statement. “Unfortunately, sales were somewhat subdued by supply and demand imbalances and broadly rising prices above wage growth. As a result, the path to homeownership so far this year remains strenuous for a segment of prospective buyers in the most competitive areas.”

The main culprit holding existing-home sales back, Yun says, is the lack of inventory.

“In spite of deficient supply levels, stock market volatility and the paltry economic growth seen so far this year, the housing market did show resilience and had its best first quarter of existing sales since 2007 (5.66 million),” he says. “The demand for buying is there, but unless the stock of new and existing homes for sale increases significantly – especially in several markets in the West – the housing market will struggle to reach its full potential.”

At the end of the first quarter, there were 1.98 million existing homes available for sale compared with 2.01 million at the end of the first quarter of 2015. The average supply during the first quarter was 4.3 months – down from 4.6 months a year earlier.

For more, including a regional breakdown of existing-home sales, click here.


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