Home Sales, Prices Up in March

The 2014 season for home sales is off to a decent start, with both sales and prices increasing in major metros across the country in March, according to a new report.

Real estate seller RE/MAX, in its just-published its National Housing Report for March – found that every one of the 52 metro areas covered in the survey saw an increase in sales over February.

Sales did come in 10.1% below last March’s totals, but were 24.6% higher than February sales, the company said. However, median prices were 8.8% higher than in March 2013.

The company cites a continuing low inventory of homes for sale as the reason for the higher prices. Across the metro areas covered, March’s sales rate produced a Month’s Supply of Inventory of just 4.1. This is way lower than the 6.0 MSI that typically signals an equal balance of buyers and sellers.

RE/MAX said that, while all the metros covered saw a month-over-month sales increase, some areas were particularly hot. Increases were greatest in Fargo, ND (+57.0%), Providence, RI (+39.2%), Burlington, VT (+38.7%), Raleigh & Durham, NC (+35.8%), Des Moines, IA (+35.8%), Milwaukee, WI (+34.3%) and Pittsburgh, PA (+32.7%).

March saw a median sales price of $186,941 for all homes sold across the 52 metros, with 41 metros seeing higher prices than in March of 2013. As with sales, though, some areas were hotter than others. Price increases were greatest in Detroit, MI (+34.9%), Las Vegas, NV (+23.3%), San Francisco, CA (+18.6%), Miami, FL (+17.1%), Honolulu, HI (+16.0%) and Atlanta, GA (+14.7%).

This report provides a very early look at how the 2014 home selling season will develop, (since the season traditionally begins in March). However, the increases in both sales and prices would indicate that this year’s higher interest rates have so far not affected market activity to a dramatic degree. It will be interesting to see how things play out from here.

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