Existing-Home Sales Rise on Home Buyer Tax Credit and Favorable Market Conditions

Buyers responding to the homebuyer tax credit and favorable affordability conditions boosted existing-home sales in March, marking the beginning of an expected spring surge, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units in March from 5.01 million in February, and are 16.1 percent above the 4.61 million-unit level in March 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said it is encouraging to see a broad home sales recovery in nearly every part of the country, with two important underlying trends. “Sales have been above year-ago levels for nine straight months, and inventory has trended down from year-ago levels for 20 months running,” he said. “The home buyer tax credit has been a resounding success as these underlying trends point to a broad stabilization in home prices. This is preserving perhaps $1 trillion in largely middle class housing wealth that may have been wiped out without the housing stimulus measure.”

Total housing inventory at the end of March rose 1.5 percent to 3.58 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.0-month supply2 at the current sales pace, down from an 8.5-month supply in February. Raw unsold inventory is 1.8 percent below a year ago, and is 21.7 percent below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

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