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U.S. Existing Home Sales Rebound By 3.7% In March


After reporting a steep drop in U.S. existing home sales for the month of February, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Wednesday showing that existing home sales rebounded by more than expected in March.

NAR said existing home sales rose by 3.7 percent to an annual rate of 5.10 million in March after falling by 8.9 percent to a revised 4.92 million in February. Economists had expected existing home sales to increase to 5.00 million from the 4.88 million originally reported for the previous month.

While existing home sales in March were still down by 6.3 percent compared to the same month a year ago, NAR noted that sales were at elevated levels from March through June of 2010 in response to the home buyer tax credit.

Noting that he expects the improving sales pattern to continue, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, "Existing-home sales have risen in six of the past eight months, so we're clearly on a recovery path."

"With rising jobs and excellent affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012, but not every month will show a gain - primarily because some buyers are finding it too difficult to obtain a mortgage," Yun added.

The rebound in existing home sales in March was largely due to a 4.0 increase in sales of single-family homes, while existing condominium and co-op sales increased by a more modest 1.6 percent.

The report also showed a notable increase in existing home sales in the South, where sales surged up by 8.2 percent in March.

Existing home sales in the Northeast and the Midwest also rose by 3.9 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively, while sales in the West edged down by 0.8 percent.

NAR also said that total housing inventories rose 1.5 percent to 3.55 million existing homes available for sale at the end of March from 3.50 million existing homes available for sale at the end of February.

However, the level of housing inventories represents 8.4 months of supply at the current sales pace, down from 8.5 months of supply in February.

The report also showed that the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $159,600 in March, down 5.9 percent from March of 2010.

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