By Jim Perskie
Existing home sales fell in March amid the coronavirus outbreak, though overall sales were up slightly from a year ago, the National Association of Realtors announced Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, we knew home sales would wane in March due to the coronavirus outbreak,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “More temporary interruptions to home sales should be expected in the next couple of months, though home prices will still likely rise.”
Total existing home sales dropped 8.5 percent from February, while climbing 0.8 percent from March 2019. Each of the four regions of the country suffered a decrease in sales from a month earlier, the report found.
Northeast: Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 7.1 percent for the month and 3 percent from March 2019. The median price in the Northeast was $300,400, up 8.3 percent from March 2019.
Midwest: Sales in the Midwest decreased 3.1 percent for the month and increased 4.2 percent from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $219,700, a 9.7 percent increase from March 2019.
South: Sales in the South dropped 9.1 percent for the month and increase 0.9 percent over March 2019. The median price in the South was $245,100, a 7.5 percent increase from a year ago.
West: Sales in the West fell 13.6 percent for the month and 0.9 percent for the year. The median price in the West was $420,600, up 8 percent from March 2019.
Other survey findings included:
- Total housing inventory at the end of March totaled 1.50 million units, up 2.7 percent from February, but down 10.2 percent from one year ago (1.67 million).
- Unsold inventory sits at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from three months in February and down from the 3.8-month figure recorded in March 2019.
- Properties typically remained on the market for 29 days in March, seasonally down from 36 days in February, and down from 36 days in March 2019.
- Fifty-two percent of homes sold in March 2020 were on the market for less than a month.
- First-time buyers were responsible for 34 percent of sales in March, up from both 32 percent in February and 33 percent in March 2019.
“Earlier in the year, we watched inventory gradually tick upward but with the current quarantine recommendations in place, fewer sellers are listing homes, which will limit buyer choices,” Yun said. “Significantly more listings are needed and more will come on to the market once the economy steadily reopens.”