WASHINGTON (April 20, 2023) – Existing-home sales edged lower in March, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Month-over-month sales declined in three out of four major U.S. regions, while sales in the Northeast remained steady. All regions posted year-over-year decreases.
Total existing-home sales,1https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – fell 2.4% from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.44 million in March. Year-over-year, sales waned 22.0% (down from 5.69 million in March 2022).
“Home sales are trying to recover and are highly sensitive to changes in mortgage rates,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Yet, at the same time, multiple offers on starter homes are quite common, implying more supply is needed to fully satisfy demand. It’s a unique housing market.”
Total housing inventory2 registered at the end of March was 980,000 units, up 1.0% from February and 5.4% from one year ago (930,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from February but up from 2.0 months in March 2022.
“Home prices continue to rise in regions where jobs are being added and housing is relatively affordable,” Yun noted. “However, the more expensive areas of the country are adjusting to lower prices.”
The median existing-home price3 for all housing types in March was $375,700, a decline of 0.9% from March 2022 ($379,300). Price climbed slightly in three regions but dropped in the West.
Properties typically remained on the market for 29 days in March, down from 34 days in February but up from 17 days in March 2022. Sixty-five percent of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 28% of sales in March, up from 27% in February but down from 30% in March 2022. NAR’s 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in November 20224 – found that the annual share of first-time buyers was 26%, the lowest since NAR began tracking the data.
All-cash sales accounted for 27% of transactions in March, down from 28% in February and one year ago.
Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 17% of homes in March, down from 18% in February and the previous year.
Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 1% of sales in March, nearly identical to last month and one year ago.
According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.27% as of April 13. That’s down from 6.28% from the previous week but up from 5% one year ago.
“With overall consumer price inflation calming and rents expected to decelerate from robust apartment construction, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy will surely shift from tightening to neutral to possibly loosening over the next 12 months,” Yun added. “Therefore, home sales will steadily rebound despite several months of fluctuations.”
Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales faded to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.99 million in March, down 2.7% from 4.10 million in February and 21.1% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $380,000 in March, down 1.4% from March 2022.
Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 450,000 units in March, identical to February but down 28.6% from the previous year. The median existing condo price was $337,300 in March, an annual increase of 2.1%.
“As documented in NAR’s recent report about housing wealth gains by homeowners over the last decade, homeownership offers a road to financial security and wealth development,” said NAR President Kenny Parcell, a Realtor® from Spanish Fork, Utah, and broker-owner of Equity Real Estate Utah. “Rely on a Realtor® to provide sound advice while purchasing your first home or next home.”
Existing-home sales in the Northeast were unchanged from February at an annual rate of 520,000 in March, but down 21.2% from March 2022. The median price in the Northeast was $395,400, up 1.0% from one year ago.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales retracted 5.5% from one month ago to an annual rate of 1.03 million in March, falling 17.6% from the previous year. The median price in the Midwest was $273,400, up 1.7% from March 2022.
Existing-home sales in the South receded 1.0% in March from February to an annual rate of 2.07 million, a 20.4% decrease from the prior year. The median price in the South was $347,600, an increase of 0.3% from one year ago.
In the West, existing-home sales declined 3.5% from the previous month to an annual rate of 820,000 in March, down 30.5% from the prior year. The median price in the West was $565,400, down 7.5% from March 2022.
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. The term Realtor® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
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For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services (MLS). Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.
NOTE: NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for March is scheduled for release on April 27, and Existing-Home Sales for April will be released on May 18. Release times are 10 a.m. Eastern.
1 Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR benchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.
Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.
2 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90% of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).
3 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.
The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.
4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s REALTORS® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. The annual study only represents primary residence purchases, and does not include investor and vacation home buyers. Results include both new and existing homes.
5 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s REALTORS® Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.