United States existing home sales hit 10-year high in March

Existing-Home Sales Up 4.4% in March; Biggest Jump in 10 years

Existing home sales increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million in March from a downwardly revised 5.47 million in February.

Home sales jumped in the Buckeye State and across the nation during March, as buyers - apparently undeterred by rising prices - pounced faster.

Existing-home sales in the West dropped 1.6% to an annual rate of 1.22 million in March, but they remain 5.2% higher than March 2016 totals.

Meanwhile, the median price for an existing home was $236,400, up 6.8% from March 2016's $221,400 and marking the 61st consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Inventory increased 5.8% from February to 1.83 million in March, but remains 6.6% below last year's 1.96 million. Economists had forecast that sales in the most active part of the housing market rose 2.2% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.6 million in March, according to Bloomberg.

"Sales will go up as long as inventory does", Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said in a Friday news release about a nationwide report on sales of previously owned homes.

Total sales in 2016 came in at 5.45 million to surpass 2015's total of 5.25 million as the most sales since 2006 when 6.48 million homes were sold.

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Inventory is now at a 3.8-month supply-no different from February, according to NAR.

And NAR's existing-home sales for March further prove the trend is true: The housing market is as robust as ever.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said April 20 that the average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans declined to 3.97 percent this week from 4.08 percent last week. On average, foreclosures and short sales sold for discounts of 16% and 14%, respectively. The median price for a single-family existing home was $237,000, while the median price for an existing condo was $224,700.

"A strong annual increase in existing home prices suggests that lower-priced, entry-level homes of the kind likely to be sought by first-time buyers are increasingly scarce", she added.

How did buying patterns vary across the country?

Median price: $260,800, a 2.8 percent year-over-year increase. Existing-home sales in the Midwest showed a similar path, up 9.2 percent to 1.31 million, with a median price of $183,000. Meanwhile, sales in the smaller and more volatile condo/co-op segment rose 5 percent to 630,000. This marks the 22nd consecutive month of annual inventory decreases.

The NAR also reported the following regional data. The median price in the South was $210,600, up 8.6% from a year ago.

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