Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose 4.4% in March from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million, the highest pace in more than a decade, the National Association of Realtors said Friday.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected sales would rise a more modest 2.0% to a 5.59 million pace last month.
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Last month's rebound came after purchases fell in February, and took the pace of existing-home sales to its highest level since February 2007.
Compared with a year earlier, sales in March were up 5.9%.
Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist, said buyer demand has remained surprisingly strong despite rising prices and tight inventory. Sales are "doing much better than I anticipated, particularly in light of affordability challenges," Mr. Yun told reporters.
The median sales price in March was $236,400, up 6.8% on the year, and there was a 3.8-month supply of homes on the market at the end of the month.
News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also operates Realtor.com under license from the National Association of Realtors.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 21, 2017 10:22 ET (14:22 GMT)