Existing Home Sales Soar To 10-Year Highs

Following February's 3.9% drop, March existing home sales roared back (up 4.4% MoM - the fastest growth since Dec 2015) to the highest since Feb 2007 at 5.71 million SAAR. Inventories tumbled (for the 22nd month in a row) and prices rose (for the 61st month in a row) as affordability issues remain ignored (for now).

It seems, unlike 2013, that rising rates are not affecting demand for existing homes at all... (yet)


The Details

  • March sales rose in three of four regions, including a 3.4 percent increase in the South and a 1.6 percent drop in the West
  • At the current pace, it would take 3.8 months to sell the homes on the market, unchanged from February; Realtors group considers less than a five months’ supply as consistent with a tight market
  • Single-family home sales increased 4.3 percent last month to an annual rate of 5.08 million
  • Purchases of condominium and co-op units rose 5 percent to a 630,000 pace
  • First-time buyers accounted for 32 percent of all sales in March, unchanged from February
  • Homes sold in 34 days, compared with 45 days in February and 47 days in March 2016

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $236,400, up 6.8 percent from March 2016 ($221,400). March's price increase marks the 61st consecutive month of year-over-year gains.


With the high-end dominating the price appreciation...


Inventory of available properties fell 6.6 percent from March 2016 to 1.83 million, marking the 22nd straight year-over-year decline.

“This is a very broad-based recovery” in the housing market, Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said at a press briefing accompanying the report.

“Both sales as well as prices are running very solidly,” and “buyers are not being deterred by these affordability challenges.”

Policy changes could “quickly change” the direction of housing in the second half, he said.

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Moon Kil Woong 1 year ago Contributor's comment

I assume this is mainly the typical firsts reaction to rate increases. Sadly it tends to set the stage for an ugly collapse because it is premised on people buying at elevated levels to get the low rates before they end and typically leads to bad decisions in their ability to afford what they buy.

Buying a house with a low rate at high prices is much worse than buying a house at lower prices at higher rates. You can negotiate your mortgage down as rates drop but you can't negotiate your debt down as rates rise.