US home sales shoot up to 10-year high

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Despite rising prices and tight inventories, sales of USA existing homes rebounded in March, surging to the highest rate in 10 years, an industry group reported Friday.

Information released Friday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that existing home sales climbed 4.4% for the month, topping economists forecasts for a smaller increase of 2.5%. But more newcomers to the housing market were in search of purchases: first-time homebuyers accounted for 32 percent of sales in March, which is unchanged from February and up by two percent a year ago.

OH sales of new and previously owned houses and condos were up 6.3 percent last month from a year before, based on seasonally adjusted, annualized data.

"The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month", NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.

In the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area, the typical listing period was longer, at 64 days, according to inventory data from Realtor.com.

Inventory of available properties fell 6.6 percent from March 2016 to 1.83 million, marking the 22nd straight year-over-year decline.

And it took an average of 34 days to complete a sale, compared to 47 days a year ago.

February's sales pace was revised slightly down to 5.47 million units. Five percent of sales were foreclosures and 1% were short sales.

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Compared to the same period of time in 2016, sales in March jumped almost 6 percent.

In Cook County, sales of single-family homes and condos were up 9.9 percent over the past year, with prices up 11.6 percent to a $240,000 median price.

"A growing pool of all types of buyers is competing for the lackluster amount of existing homes on the market", Yun said, advocating for builders to pick up the pace of new construction.

In the Northeast, existing-home sales jumped 10.1 percent to an annual rate of 760,000 million, up 4.1 percent from a year ago.

Recent gains in pending home sales, which lead existing-home sales by a few months, had signaled a rebound in existing sales. And many owners who escaped the downturn unharmed chose to refinance their mortgages at extremely low rates, possibly making them hesitant to move to a new house that could increase their monthly costs.

The consequences can be seen in home values and days on the market.

In the West, existing-home sales decreased 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.22 million.

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