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A Return to Negative Territory for Existing Home Sales
Higher-Priced Markets Decline Disproportionately

A Return to Negative Territory for Existing Home Sales

A slowdown in the sales of existing homes in March was expected due to the gains made in February, which was revised slightly lower, but not as big of a retreat as the first numbers indicate.

Following a strong showing in February with an 11.2% gain, existing home sales withdrew into the red; registering a loss of 4.9% in March. Falloffs were seen in all four regions of the country, but the higher-priced areas in California and the Northeast posted the biggest drops, as some moderately-priced markets actually improved.

The National Association of Realtors reported that homes remained on the market for an average of 36 days in March, up from 30 days in the same month last year but down from 44 days seen in February 2019.

The median price of an existing single-family home was $261,100: a 3.8% bump over March of last year. The average price of those homes was 298,100: a 2.6% gain. Condominiums and co-ops saw median prices rise 3.6%, and average prices grow 1.8%.

However, the Wells Fargo Economics Group stressed that, "home sales are soft-not weak. The chief concern is that the pullback in mortgage rates, which brought the commitment rate for conventional 30-year mortgages down to 4.27% from around 5% in October and November, has not done more to boost sales. We suspect that lower rates have boosted demand but only at more affordable price points, where inventory is still relatively scarce."

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October 19, 2019, 8:21 am PDT

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