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Existing Home Sales Jump in March – St. Louis Shows Strong

Dennis Norman

Dennis Norman

According to the latest report from the National Association of REALTORS(R), existing home sales in the US in March increased 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted-annual rate of 5.35 million units in March from a revised level of 5.01 million units in February, and increased 16.1 percent from a year ago when the rate was 4.61 million units (seasonally adjusted).

St. Louis Shows Strong Against Other Metros –

NAR publishes existing home sales for 20 major metropolitan areas of the U.S. which showed the St. Louis Real Estate Market in a pretty positive light.  St. Louis ranked 2nd of the metro’s in terms of one-year median home price increase with an increase in March of 19.8 percent from a year ago.  In terms of the increase in existing home sales in March from a year ago St. Louis came in fifth with a 25.6 percent increase

Highlights from the report-

  • The median home price in the U.S. in March was $170,700 an increase of 3.7 percent from February’s $164,600 and an increase of 0.4 percent from a year ago when the median price was $170,000.
  • The inventory of existing homes for sale in March actually increased 1.5 percent from the month before but, due to the increased rate of home sales, the “months supply” of homes decreased from 8.5 months to 8.0 months in March representing a decline of 5.9 percent for the month and a decline of 15.8 percent from a year ago when there was 9.5 months supply of existing homes for sale.
  • Distressed sales accounted for 35 percent of all home sales in March, the same as February.
  • First-Time homebuyers accounted for 44 percent of the home sales in March, up from 42 percent in February.
  • Investors were the buyers of 19 percent of the homes in March, the same as February.
  • Repeat home buyers were responsible for approximately 37 percent of March’s sales down from February’s 39 pecent..

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said it is encouraging to see a broad home sales recovery in nearly every part of the country, with two important underlying trends. “Sales have been above year-ago levels for nine straight months, and inventory has trended down from year-ago levels for 20 months running,” he said. “The home buyer tax credit has been a resounding success as these underlying trends point to a broad stabilization in home prices. This is preserving perhaps $1 trillion in largely middle class housing wealth that may have been wiped out without the housing stimulus measure.”

My Take On the Numbers:

Last month I said that I was somewhat encouraged by the existing home sales for February and that I thought “the housing market, at least in many areas of the country, is toying with the bottom”. After seeing strong numbers in March I am again encouraged. I do think however we should all have “cautious optimism” as almost half of March’s home sales were first time home buyers who could be racing to beat the April 30th deadline to buy. My guess is we will see pretty good sales numbers in April as well, then the next couple of months beyond that will tell us if the market truly has any staying power or if it was just the “sugar-rush” of the tax-credits that boosted the market.

You can see the complete report and a more in-depth analysis here.

 

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