Slowest home sales for March in five years despite rising inventory

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While improving market conditions set up for an anticipated boom in spring home buying, March had the smallest month-to-month sales growth since 2014, according to Remax.

Emerging from the home sale hibernation of winter, the buying cycle normally starts churning in March. Although housing sales did, in fact, rise 28.8% in March from February, it's the lowest change in five years. From 2014 to 2019, the average gain for the transition to spring from winter was 30.1% in home sales.

In addition to a slower spring start, sales dropped 8.6% year-over-year, marking the eighth straight month of annual declines. Conversely, inventory grew 5.3% in March, the sixth consecutive month of annual gains, following its largest jump in 10 years back in January.

"It was encouraging to see month-over-month sales improve during March," Adam Contos, Remax CEO, said in a press release. "Although the seasonal bounce that typically ends the first quarter wasn't as strong as in the past few years, conditions are in place for a healthy spring selling season. Falling interest rates, rising inventory and moderating price increases against the backdrop of a healthy overall economy are cause for optimism for buyers and sellers alike."

March's inventory decreased to a 2.7-month supply, down from three months a year prior and 3.7 months in February. A supply of six months defines market equilibrium. The average days on market went to 59 days for March, up two days from a year ago and down three from February.

The median home price increased to $246,000 in March, up 3.4% year-over-year and 2.5% month-over-month. Manchester, N.H., had the greatest increase at 12.2%, followed by Omaha, Neb., with 11.8%. San Francisco and Hartford, Conn., were the only metro areas with annual declines in median sales prices at 3.8% and 1.4%, respectively.

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