Sales of existing homes slip slightly

Existing-home sales declined in March from inventory constraints, which continued to pressure home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million in March, from a downwardly revised 4.95 million in February,

Compared with a year ago, existing home sales are up 10.3%.

"Buyer traffic is 25% above a year ago when we were already seeing notable gains in shopping activity," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "In the same time frame housing inventories have trended much lower, which is continuing to pressure home prices. The good news is home construction is rising and low mortgage rates are continuing to keep affordability conditions at historically favorable levels. The bad news is that underwriting standards remain excessively tight, while renters are getting squeezed by higher rents." 

The NAR also reported that the median existing single-family home price was $185,100 in March, up 12.1% from a year ago. 

Total housing inventory at the end of March increased 1.6% to 1.93 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.6 months in February. Listed inventory remains 16.8% below a year ago when there was a 6.2-month supply.

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