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Published: Sat, April 22, 2017
Health | By Constance Griffith

US home sales rise shoot up to 10-year high

US home sales rise shoot up to 10-year high

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

The number of home resales across the country jumped in March to reach its highest pace since 2007.

Sales of single-family homes rose 4.3% from the February total of 4.87 million to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million, and they are up 6.1% compared with March 2016.

The Illinois Realtors reported Friday a 13.1 percent jump in sales and a 10 percent climb in the median price over the a year ago in the Chicago area. Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March for sales to muster a strong gain. Inventory is down 6.6% year over year from 1.96 million in March 2016. Inventories increased 5.8% from February to 1.83 million homes for sale, but are still 6.6% lower than a year ago.

However increased competition caused homes to soar off the market as properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in March, down significantly from 45 days in February and 47 days previous year.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 5.63 million rate.

It's possible that more Americans are devoting their incomes to housing as retail sales have struggled in recent months, said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

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Short sales stayed on the market an average of 90 days in March as foreclosures usually sold in about 52 days.

"A growing pool of all types of buyers is competing for the lackluster amount of existing homes on the market", he said. That's good news for sellers, who have been reluctant to put homes on the market, leaving limited choices for buyers - especially those seeking starter homes.

The NAR's existing home sales data measures sales and prices of existing single-family homes for the nation overall, providing breakdowns for the West, Midwest, South and Northeast regions of the U.S. These figures also include condos and co-ops. Existing-home sales in the Midwest showed a similar path, up 9.2 percent to 1.31 million, with a median price of $183,000.

The median existing-home price continued to rise, hitting $236,400 in March.

Inventories tumbled (for the 22nd month in a row) and prices rose (for the 61st month in a row) as affordability issues remain ignored (for now).

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

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