This article first appeared on FloatingPath.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 0.2% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million, the National Association of Realtors reports. This annual rate is 7.5% lower than the 4.96 million-unit level in March 2013. It is also the slowest pace of sales since June 2012.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that current sales activity is underperforming by historical standards. “There really should be stronger levels of home sales given our population growth,” he said. “In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory shortages.”

Yun expects some improvement in the months ahead. “With ongoing job creation and some weather delayed shopping activity, home sales should pick up, especially if inventory continues to improve and mortgage interest rates rise only modestly.”

Existing home sales (SAAR) in each of the 4 U.S. regions in March:

  • Northeast: 0.60 million from 0.55 million month prior.
  • Midwest: 1.04 million from 1.00 million month prior.
  • South: 1.92 million from 1.98 million month prior.
  • West: 1.03 million from 1.07 million month prior.

Total housing inventory at the end of March increased 4.7% to 1.99 million existing homes available for sale. That represents a 5.2 month supply at the current sales pace, up from 5.0 month supply in February. Unsold inventory is 3.1% above a year ago, when there was a 4.7 month supply.

The median time on market for all homes was 55 days in March. That is down from 62 days in February. Short sales were on the market for a median of 112 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 55 days, and non-distressed homes took 53 days. 37% of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month.

The national median existing home price for all housing types was $198,500, up 7.9% from a year ago.

Home Sales