Economic Snapshot: Existing home sales reach highest level since fall 2013

Existing and new home sales are mirror images of each other this week: While existing home sales saw huge increases in March, new home sales dragged and fell below 500,000. However, the most important thing they both have in common is strong year-over-year gains.

Existing home sales

Total existing-home sales rose 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.9 million in March, a significant increase from 4.89 million in February. This is the highest annual rate of existing home sales since September 2013, also 5.19 million.

Sales have increased YOY for six consecutive months and are now 10.4 percent higher than the previous year, the highest annual increase since August 2013, when existing home sales rose 10.7 percent YOY.

Total housing inventory at the end of March jumped 5.3 percent to 2.00 million existing homes available for sale and is now 2.0 percent above March 2014. Unsold inventory is at a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace, a decrease from 4.7 months in February.

The median existing-home sales price for all housing types in March was $212,000, 7.8 percent above March 2014. This marks the 37th month of YOY price gains and the largest since February 2014, which were at 8.8 percent.

The percent of first-time buyers was 30 percent in March, up from 29 percent in February.

New home sales

Sales of new single-family houses in March 2015 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000, 11.4 percent below the upwardly revised February rate of 543,000. This is the largest percent decline for new home sales since July 2013. However, new home sales are 19.4 percent above the March 2014 estimate of 403,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in March 2015 was $277,400 and the average sales price was $343,300. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 213,000, which represents a 5.3-month supply at the current sales rate.

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