US property sales up by 10 per cent
US property sales continue to climb in 2013 compared to 2012, according to new figures, as demand outstrips supply. Existing home transactions rose by 10.3 per cent in March year-on-year, the National Association of Realtors announced today, marking the 21st month of annual sales growth in a row.
Sales of existing homes actually eased in March on a monthly basis because of a lack of supply. Deals dipped by 0.6 per cent from February, but inventory constraints continue to help drive up home prices.
Indeed, average US home values have risen year-on-year for 13 months in a row. The last time that happened was between May 2005 and May 2006.
The national median existing home price hit $184,300 in March, 11.8 per cent higher than 2012 - the strongest annual leap since November 2005.
Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, comments: “Buyer traffic is 25 percent above a year ago when we were already seeing notable gains in shopping activity. In the same timeframe housing inventories have trended much lower, which is continuing to pressure home prices.”
Indeed, total housing inventory at the end of March increased 1.6 percent to 1.93 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.7-month supply 2 at the current sales pace, up from 4.6 months in February. Listed inventory remains 16.8 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.2-month supply.
"The inventory improvement last month results from a seasonal gain, but conditions continue to broadly favour sellers,” adds Yun. “We need a housing supply of over 6 months to have a generally balanced market between home buyers and sellers, but it's unlikely we'll get there without greater increases in housing construction.”
The median time on market for all homes was 62 days in March, down from 74 days in February and 32 percent below 91 days in March 2012.
NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., says homes are selling much faster: “The typical home sold in March was on the market for one month less than it took to sell a year ago. Multiple bidding is becoming more common, and more homes are selling above the asking price, so buyers need to move quickly and follow their Realtor®'s advice for contingencies when making contract offers.”
On a regional basis, existing-home sales in the Northeast were unchanged at an annual rate of 630,000 in March and are 6.8 percent above March 2012. The median price in the Northeast was $237,000, up 3.0 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1.8 percent in March to a pace of 1.16 million and are 14.9 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $141,800, up 7.8 percent from March 2012.
In the South, existing-home sales slipped 1.5 percent to an annual level of 1.95 million in March but are 12.7 percent above March 2012. The median price in the South was $161,700, which is 10.4 percent above a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West declined 1.7 percent to a pace of 1.18 million in March but are 4.4 percent above a year ago. With notably constrained inventory conditions, the median price in the West rose to $258,100, up 26.1 percent from March 2012.
“The good news is home construction is rising and low mortgage rates are continuing to keep affordability conditions at historically favourable levels,” adds Yun. “The bad news is that underwriting standards remain excessively tight, while renters are getting squeezed by higher rents.”