The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their monthly accounting of existing home sales this morning. The report covers three broad areas important to investors and economists: existing homes sales, median and average price of existing home sales, and the inventory of homes for sales.  Here are the figures.

The existing home sales figure came in at 4.92 million (annual basis), a decline of 30K or 0.61 percent from the prior month.  The 4.92 million March figures put the first quarter of 2013 as the best quarter since the fourth quarter of 2009, with the year over year growth at 10.3 percent. Perhaps a sign of caution, the first quarter 2013 existing home sales growth figures are all below the fourth quarter of 2012 growth numbers.

The existing home sales figure

On the sales price figures, the median price number came in above the prior month, with the median price for March at $190,233, an increase of about 2.8 percent over February.

The average selling price for an existing home figure came in at $239,784, an increase of 2.3 percent over the prior month.

   sales price existing home avg & median

In a likely unsurprising trend, the difference between the average price and the median sales price of existing homes continues to widen.  The March difference is $49,551, an increase of 0.4 percent over the prior month.  The all-time difference occurred at the height of accelerating housing activity in January 2005 at $50,569.  The increasing differential suggests greater confidence among high value owners or investors and lesser confidence among owners of smaller homes.

difference between average and marginal home prices

The third piece of information useful from today’s report is the inventory of existing homes and the conversion thereof into the monthly supply of homes available.

The number of homes available came in at 2.012 million, an increase of about 22,600 over February’s figure, or about 1.1 percent.  The now three month trend in increasing number of homes for sale likely indicates some confidence on behalf of sellers that the market is improving.

Converting the existing homes available for purchase into the figure “Monthly Supply of Homes” comes out at almost 4 months, which is still a somewhat low figure by historical standards, unless, of course, one eliminates the high years.

number of homes and months supply on the market

Overall, the NAR figures were somewhat weak ahead of the summer buying season.  One could likely sum it up as: the demand side still holds a good deal of the cards, although the seller side needn’t be too intimidated because the momentum appears on their side.