Existing-home sales hit 7-month low on record prices, tight inventory

Sales fell 3.7% month over month in March

Existing-home sales slumped to a seven-month low in March as record prices and tight inventories limited purchases. 

The number of contracts closed fell 3.7% month over month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.01 million, from an upwardly revised 6.24 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. Analysts surveyed by Refintiv had expected a decline to 6.19 million. 

"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 median price for existing homes surged 17% from a year ago to $329,100. Prices have risen for 109 consecutive months. 

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.08% last month, according to Freddie Mac, but remains at historically low levels. The average commitment rate for 2020 was 3.11%. 

Sales would have been "measurably higher, had there been more inventory," Yun said. 

Total housing inventory at the end of March was 1.07 million units, up 3.9% from February and down 28% from a year ago. Unsold inventory was at a 2.1 month supply, near the historic low since NAR began keeping track of the data in 1982.     

The typical home remained on the market for 18 days, down from 29 days a year ago. Eighty-three percent of homes were sold within a month of their listing.


Existing-home sales slumped 8% from a year ago in the West, 2.9% in the South, 2.3% in the Midwest and 1.3% in the Northeast. 

Prices were up 21% year over year in the Northeast, 16% in both the South and the West and 14% in the Midwest.