(RTTNews) - The National Association of Realtors released a report on Thursday showing another steep drop in U.S. existing home sales in the month of March.
NAR said existing home sales tumbled by 3.7 percent to an annual rate of 6.01 million in March after plunging by 6.3 percent to a revised rate of 6.24 million in February.
Economists had expected existing home sales to dip by 0.5 percent to a rate of 6.19 million from the 6.22 million originally reported for the previous month.
Existing home sales fell to their lowest annual rate since August but were still up by 12.3 percent compared to the same month a year ago.
"Consumers are facing much higher home prices, rising mortgage rates, and falling affordability, however, buyers are still actively in the market," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.
"The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory," he added. "Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising."
The report showed the median existing home price was $329,100 in March, up 5.9 percent from $310,700 in February and up 17.2 percent from $280,700 a year ago.
Meanwhile, housing inventory at the end of March totaled 1.07 million units, up 3.9 percent from 1.03 million in February but down 28.2 percent from 1.49 million in the same month last year.
The unsold inventory represents 2.1 months of supply at the current sales pace compared to 2.0 months in February and 3.3 months in March of 2020.
"Without an increase in supply, the society wealth division will widen with homeowners enjoying sizable equity gains while renters will struggle to become homeowners," Yun said.
The report showed single-family home sales plunged by 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 5.30 million, while existing condominium and co-op sales jumped by 1.4 percent to a rate of 710,000.
On Friday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new home sales in the month of March.
Economists expect new home sales to spike by 14.3 percent to an annual rate of 886,000 in March after plummeting by 18.2 percent to a rate of 775,000 in February.
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