By: Demetrios Salpoglou
Sales of existing homes around the nation in March spiked to the highest level since February 2007, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This represents a 1.5 percent increase from the prior month.
Inventory also improved in March with an additional 1.83 million homes listed, a 5.8 percent increase from the previous month. Although, the available inventory during March was down 6.6 percent from the year before.
Inventory influences duration of home listings
NAR reports a 3.8 month supply of homes currently available on the market, holding steady from the previous month. When the supply is lower, like it is now, the competition to win bids on homes creates a white hot sellers’ market.
Homes only lasted on the market for an average of 34 days in March – that’s 11 less days than the duration of the average listing from just a month earlier and 13 fewer days than last year at the same time. In total, nearly half of all homes sold in March were listed for less than one month.
Home sales trends by region
The Northeastern U.S. saw a 10.1 percent increase in existing home sales during March, trailed closely by the Midwest, where sales jumped 9.2 percent. In the South, existing home sales increased by a moderate 3.4 percent while sales in the West dipped by 1.6 percent.
First-time homebuyers continue to make their presence felt in the market, accounting for nearly 1/3 of all sales in March.
Why it’s an ideal time to sell
Not only are sellers watching their single-family houses, condos, co-ops and townhouses get quickly plucked off the market, those properties are also appreciating. The median existing-home price is now $236,400 – a 6.8 percent increase compared to the year before.
Sellers are also being paid in cash more often. In March, 23 percent of existing home sales were made in all cash deals. Buyers are discovering that paying in cash helps to differentiate their bids from the competition.
There is a silver lining for buyers
Despite limited inventory and lots of competition, home buyers can still take advantage of interest rates that remain near historic lows. Keep in mind that interest rates could still be raised more than once this year, so it’s important to stay aggressive in your search to lock in the best possible rates now.