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St. Louis home sales and prices both down Over 20 Percent from a year ago

Dennis NormanToday’s existing home sales report from the National Association of REALTORS® shows existing home sales in March were at at a seasonally adjusted-annual rate of 5.1 million units which is an increase of 3.7 percent from the month before and is a decrease of 6.3 percent from a year ago.

Home prices increase after declining for eight-consecutive months….

The median home price in the U.S. in March was $159,600, an increase of 2.2 percent from February’s revised median price of $156,900 and a decrease of 5.9 percent from a year ago when the median price was $169,600.

Number of homes for sale increases for the third-consecutive month….

The number of existing homes on the market increased in March by 1.5 percent to 3.549 million homes, but is down 2.1 percent from a year ago when there were 3.626 million homes for sale. Based upon the current rate of sales the supply that this inventory translates into decreased by 1.2 percent to 8.4 months from 8.5 months the month before and is 5.0 percent higher than a year ago when the supply was 8.0 months.

Metro Home Sales and Prices –

NAR publishes existing home sales for major metropolitan areas of the U.S. Highlights from that report for March include:

  • Only two metro areas saw an increase in sales from a year ago (down from five last month) with Phoenix leading the way with a 9.5 percent increase in sales.
    • Baltimore, MD again this month had the second largest year-over-year sales increase at 6.3 percent .
  • St. Louis, MO had the largest decrease in sales from a year ago again this month, with a 20.3 percent decrease.
    • Philadelphia, PA had the second highest decrease in sales from a year ago with a 16.6 percent decrease, closely followed by Kansas City, MO with a 14.7 percent decrease.
  • Fourteen of the metros also saw year-over-year declines in home prices in March.
    • San Antonio, TX saw the largest one-year increase in home prices this month with an 3.6 percent increase, followed by Washington D.C. at 1.0 percent.
    • St. Louis, MO saw the biggest one-year decrease in home prices this month, with a decline of 20.2 percent, followed by Cincinnati, OH with a 18.4 percent decline and Minneapolis-St. Paul with a 15.2 percent decline.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects the improving sales pattern to continue. “Existing-home sales have risen in six of the past eight months, so we’re clearly on a recovery path,” he said. “With rising jobs and excellent affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012, but not every month will show a gain — primarily because some buyers are finding it too difficult to obtain a mortgage. For those fortunate enough to qualify for financing, monthly mortgage payments as a percent of income have been at record lows.”

I don’t like “seasonally adjusted rates of sales”:

If you have been reading my posts for a while you know by now I don’t like “seasonally adjusted” numbers when artificial stimuli, such as tax-credits, can cause an unseasonal spike in sales activity. I much prefer to see the actual numbers and try to garner from them what is going on in the housing market.

The following are the ACTUAL Existing Home sales reported by NAR without any adjustment or fluff:

  • There were 402,000 existing homes sold in March which is an increase of 36.3 percent from the month before and a 6.3 percent decrease from a year ago.
  • Below are highlights from each region for March:
    • Northeast – 59,000 homes sold, an increase of 22.9 percent from the prior month a decrease of 11.9 percent from the year before.
    • Midwest – 85,000 homes sold, an increase of 34.9 percent from the prior month and a decrease of 14.1 percent from the year before.
    • South – 157,000 homes sold, an increase of 38.9 percent from the prior month and a decrease of 1.9 percent from the year before.
    • West – 101,000 homes sold, an increase of 42.3 percent from the prior month and a decrease of 1.9 percent from the year before.

Other highlights of the NAR Report for March 2011:

  • Distressed sales accounted for 40 percent of all home sales for the month, up from 39 percent the month before.
  • First-Time homebuyers accounted for 33 percent of the home sales for the month, down from 34 percent the month before.
  • Investors were the buyers of 22 percent of the homes for the month, up from from 19 percent the month before.
  • Repeat home buyers were responsible for approximately 45 percent of the month’s sales, down from 47 percent the month before.
  • Cash buyers were a record 35 percent of all sales in March, up from 33 percent in February.

My Take On the Numbers:

Home sales and prices continue to bounce around…..however, for many, if not most, markets in the U.S. it appears home prices have found a “bottom”…albeit a rocky bottom, a bottom nonetheless…

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