Existing-home sales hold steady in March

Across the country, housing market conditions fluctuated from one corner of the U.S. to the other. While positive steps were noted in one region, another reported declines. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales were little changed in March, with gains in the Northeast and Midwest canceled out be decreases in the West and South.

Across the country, housing market conditions fluctuated from one corner of the U.S. to the other. While positive steps were noted in one region, another reported declines. 

Overall, the U.S. real estate segment is holding steady in terms of recovery. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales were little changed in March, with gains in the Northeast and Midwest canceled out by decreases in the West and South. In total, sales dipped 0.2 percent for the month, 7.5 percent below the same time last year.

"There really should be stronger levels of home sales given our population growth," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. "In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory shortages."

He added that improvement could be on the horizon, however. Job creation is on the rise, and any decline in homebuying activity due to weather should change shortly. In other good news, first-time homebuyers made up 30 percent of all purchases in March, an uptick compared to February.

Home prices begin to increase
In addition to flat home sales, NAR reported that prices have been on the upswing. For example, the median existing-home price for March hit $198,500, a year-over-year increase of 7.9 percent.

This is in line with data released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The organization's House Price Index ticked up 0.6 percent in February compared to the previous month. This information is gathered using home sales prices from mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac only. On a year-over-year level, prices rose 6.9 percent. However, it is still 7.6 percent below its peak in April 2007. 

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