WASHINGTON, D.C.: Sales of existing US homes rebounded in March, pulling out of a February slump as buyers overlooked tight inventory and rising prices, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
The NAR report suggested encouraging momentum at the start of the key spring selling season in the housing market, after recent signs of weakness such as a slide in new home construction to a five-month low last month.
Sales of previously owned homes leaped 5.1 percent to an annual rate of 5.33 million units in March from 5.07 million units in February, with gains seen in all four major regions, the industry group said.
Sales were up a modest 1.5 percent from a year ago.
“With existing-home sales back in line with the three-month average at 5.29 million, this morning’s data indicate that the decline in March housing starts reported yesterday may have been the result of seasonal adjustment issues,” said Barclays analyst Jesse Hurwitz.
“We expect the US housing market to remain in a gradual recovery mode.”
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that the mid-priced housing market was strong,
but sales were weaker at both the very low and very high ends of the market because of tight supply and affordability pressures.
“Closings came back in force last month as a greater number of buyers—mostly in the Northeast and Midwest—overcame depressed inventory levels and steady price growth to close on a home,” he said.
The median existing-home price increased for the 49th consecutive month year-over-year in March, rising 5.7 percent from March 2015 to $222,700.
Total inventory rose a bit but was still down 1.5 percent from a year ago at 1.98 million units.