Existing-Home Sales Dipped in March as Inventory Issues Persist

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Existing-home sales were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.01 million in March, down 3.7% compared with February but up 12.3% compared with March 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Month-over-month, existing-home sales fell 1.3% in the Northeast, 2.3% in the Midwest, 2.9% in the South, and 8.0% in the West.

Year-over-year, sales were up in all four major regions.

“Consumers are facing much higher home prices, rising mortgage rates, and falling affordability, however, buyers are still actively in the market,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, in a statement. “The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory. Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising.”

Yun says although mortgage rates have increased, they are still at a favorable level and the economic outlook is promising.

“At least half of the adult population has received a COVID-19 vaccination, according to reports, and recent housing starts and job creation data show encouraging dynamics of more supply and strong demand in the housing sector,” he says.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $329,100, up 17.2% from March 2020.

As of the end of the month, total housing inventory stood at around 1.07 million units, up 3.9% from February but down 28.2% from one year ago.

That’s about a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace.

“Without an increase in supply, the society wealth division will widen with homeowners enjoying sizable equity gains while renters will struggle to become homeowners,” Yun says.

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 20 days in February and from 29 days in March 2020.

Eighty-three percent of the homes sold in March 2021 were on the market for less than a month.

Photo: Kaleb Tapp

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