US Home Sales
By ALEX VEIGA
AP Business Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes fell in March and prices edged lower for the second month in a row, a tepid start to the spring homebuying season as buyers contend with sharply higher mortgage rates and a near record-low number of properties on the market.
Existing home sales fell 2.4% last month from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.44 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That’s below the 4.5 million home sales economists were expecting, according to FactSet. Sales were down 22% compared with March last year.
The national median home price slipped 0.9% from March last year to $375,700, the NAR said. That’s the biggest annual median home price drop since January 2012.
The inventory of homes on the market rose 1% from February, with some 980,000 properties on the market by the end of March. That’s a 5.4% increase from March last year and amounts to a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace. In a more balanced market between buyers and sellers, there is a 5- to 6-month supply.
Elevated mortgage rates, which can add hundreds of a dollars a month in costs for homebuyers, on top of already high home prices, have kept many would-be buyers on the sidelines.
The average long-term rate on a 30-year mortgage mostly rose in March, climbing to 6.73% by the second week of the month. Higher rates can add hundreds of a dollars a month in costs for homebuyers, on top of already high home prices.
Rates reached a two-decade high of 7.08% in the fall following a series of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The average rate on a 30-year home loan has eased in recent weeks, slipping to 6.27% last week. The average rate a year earlier was 5%.
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