Existing home sales soar in March

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Existing home sales jumped 6.8% in March, with home buyers racing to get a tax credit that expires in April, according to a real estate industry report released Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales rose last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units, up from the revised rate of 5.01 million in February. Sales year-over-year were up 16.1%.

Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com had expected the March sales rate to hit just 5.29 million annual units.

Home resales have been above year-ago levels for nine straight months, according to the report.

"Buoyed by the unseasonably warm weather, home owners were out en masse scooping-up bargain-priced real estate," said Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans, in a research note.

In its February report, NAR said winter storms hurt figures for the month.

"Adding to the increase in sales [for March] is the looming deadline of the government's home buyer tax credit," Walters said.

First-time home buyers can qualify for a tax credit of up to $8,000, while those who are trading up could get as much as $6,500. In either case, buyers must sign contracts by the end of April and close the deal before July 1 in order to get the credit.

Legislators have twice extended the deadline to obtain the tax credit, but a further extension is not expected.

The tax credit "has been a resounding success," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, said in a prepared statement. "This is preserving perhaps $1 trillion in largely middle class housing wealth that may have been wiped out."

Price and inventory: The median price of homes sold in March was $170,000, up 0.4% from March 2009. Distressed properties made up 35% of the houses sold during the month.

Total housing inventory rose 1.5% to 3.58 million existing homes for sale. That's an 8-month supply at the current selling pace, down from and 8.5 month supply in February.

Sales by property type: Single-family home sales rose 7.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million in March from a pace of 4.36 million in February, and were 13.3% above the pace 12 months ago.

Condominium and co-op sales rose 3.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 670,000 units in March, from 650,000 in February, and were 39.3% above March 2008's rate.

Sales by region: Total existing home sales rose the most in the Midwest, up 7.2% in March to an annual pace of 1.19 million. That's up 15.5% from a year ago.

Sales in the South rose 7.1% to an annual rate of 1.97 million; the West gained 6.6% to 1.3 million; and the Northeast was up 6% to 890,000.  To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.08%4.12%
15 yr fixed3.23%3.21%
5/1 ARM3.46%3.30%
30 yr refi4.14%4.12%
15 yr refi3.28%3.21%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,804.71 -238.19 -1.40%
Nasdaq 4,422.09 -71.31 -1.59%
S&P 500 1,946.16 -26.13 -1.32%
Treasuries 2.41 0.01 0.33%
Data as of 9:22am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Applied Materials In... 20.96 -0.65 -3.01%
Regions Financial Co... 9.89 -0.15 -1.49%
American Internation... 52.96 -1.06 -1.96%
Medtronic Inc 62.47 0.82 1.34%
Huntington Bancshare... 9.60 -0.13 -1.34%
Data as of Oct 1

Sections

Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment cuts 16% of its workforce as the Finish company refocuses on its core businesses. More

In the last five years, pumpkin sales have risen 34% as people demand pumpkin in everything from beer to beef jerky. More

New York City launches a comprehensive site for all things related to its digital tech scene, Digital.NYC. More

The British payday lender Wonga has agreed to forgive £220 million ($355 million) in loans and interest as it works to tighten its lending standards. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.