Existing-home sales pulled back more than expected in March in the U.S., according to the National Association of Realtors. Month-over-month sales declined in three out of four major U.S. regions, while sales in the Northeast remained steady. All regions posted year-over-year decreases.
Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – fell 2.4% from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.44 million in March. Year-over-year, sales waned 22.0% (down from 5.69 million in March 2022).
“Home sales are trying to recover and are highly sensitive to changes in mortgage rates,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Yet, at the same time, multiple offers on starter homes are quite common, implying more supply is needed to fully satisfy demand. It’s a unique housing market.”
Total housing inventory registered at the end of March was 980,000 units, up 1.0% from February and 5.4% from one year ago (930,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from February but up from 2.0 months in March 2022.
“Home prices continue to rise in regions where jobs are being added and housing is relatively affordable,” Yun noted. “However, the more expensive areas of the country are adjusting to lower prices.”
The median existing-home sales price dipped 0.9% from the previous year to $375,700. First-time buyers were responsible for 28% of sales in March, up from 27% in February but down from 30% in March 2022. All-cash sales accounted for 27% of transactions in March, down from 28% in February and one year ago.
Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 17% of homes in March, down from 18% in February and the previous year.
Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – represented 1% of sales in March, nearly identical to last month and one year ago.