Home sales fall while prices reach all-time high

Existing home sales fell 3.7% in March, with inventory unable to keep pace with demand

The pace of homes sales fell again as prices reached historic highs and inventory remained low.

Existing home sales dropped 3.7 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.01 million from 6.22 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors’ monthly report.

It marks the second consecutive month-over-month decline in the pace of sales. Though it’s an improvement from March 2020’s pace of 5.35 million sales, the country was largely in lockdown at the time.

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Last month, the median sale price hit an all-time high of $329,100, up 17.2 percent year-over-year.

The supply of inventory also rose slightly in March to 1.07 million units, compared to February’s 1.03 million. Properties were sold within 18 days, the fastest on record.

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But the increase in inventory wasn’t enough for the eager buyers on the market, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

“The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory,” he said in a statement.

“At least half of the adult population has received a Covid-19 vaccination, according to reports, and recent housing starts and job creation data show encouraging dynamics of more supply and strong demand in the housing sector,” Yun continued.

Housing starts surged 19 percent in March. Homebuilder sentiment rose this month with builders expecting strong activity from prospective buyers and in single-family sales.

Yun did acknowledge that a cycle of low inventory and strong demand that continues to drive up prices will have long-term effects if not reversed soon.

“Without an increase in supply, the society wealth division will widen with homeowners enjoying sizable equity gains while renters will struggle to become homeowners,” he said.

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