US home sales shoot up to 10-year high

Ohio home sales jumped in March, as buyers pounced faster across the country

Ohio home sales jumped in March, as buyers pounced faster across the country

First-time home buyers also made little progress, accounting for 32% of the market. Homes sold in the Akron area were on the market for 61 days, on average.

The housing market needs more inventory for sales to pick up meaningfully, he notes.

Total existing home sales, completed transactions including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.71 million in March, according to NAR's report.

The pace in March is 5.9% above levels one year ago and surpassed January as the strongest month of sales since February 2007, when it was 5.79 million.

The Northeast, South and Midwest experienced strong growth, while the West took a small hit.

February's sales pace was revised slightly down to 5.47 million units. This means there are essentially more buyers chasing fewer properties. Inventory is down 6.6% year over year from 1.96 million in March 2016.

Nationwide chief economist David Berson says the large increase in existing home sales was expected since pending home sales, an earlier indicator, were strong.

"The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month", Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Short sales stayed on the market an average of 90 days in March as foreclosures usually sold in about 52 days.

Sales eased from a 10-year high in February as a limited supply of affordable houses kept prices high and strained some buyers' budgets, according to the NAR.

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The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $236,400, up 6.8% from March 2016 ($221,400). Still, the sales pace remained higher than year-ago levels across the board. The median sale price was $183,000, up 6.2 percent.

How did buying patterns vary across the country?

The Fed is poised to hike rates twice more this year, and thrice next year, with long-term borrowing rates likely to increase accordingly.

Median price: $260,800, a 2.8 percent year-over-year increase.

Existing-home sales in the South and West covered less ground in March, with sales in the South rising 3.4 percent to 2.42 million, with a median price of $210,600, and sales in the West falling 1.6 percent to 1.22 million, with a median price of $347,500.

In the Midwest, home sales were up 3.1 percent from a year before.

Sales of previously-owned homes churned higher in March as sturdy demand for housing bolsters the market.

Median price: $201,600, a 8.6 percent year-over-year increase.

Twenty-three percent of existing-home sales in March were all-cash, compared to 15 percent by individual investors.

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