March sees fewer existing home sales than February

The latest total of existing-home sales was down 0.6 percent from the 4.95 million transactions seen during the preceding month of February, but up more than 10 percent from the March 2012 level of 4.46 million.

Although the housing market has seen substantial improvement in recent months, and consumers are reporting heightened levels of financial safety and soundness, the existing-home sales recorded in March exhibited a slight month-over-month decline.

A report released by the National Association of Realtors outlined the figures logged last month, when a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million existing-home sales was noted. The latest total was down 0.6 percent from the 4.95 million transactions seen during the preceding month of February, but up more than 10 percent from the March 2012 level of 4.46 million.

Sale totals were reportedly recorded above year-ago levels for the last 21 straight months, while prices have appreciated on a year-over-year basis for the past 13 consecutive months. As more consumers make the move toward homeownership, fewer properties may be available in coming months. However, March saw a monthly rise in national inventory levels of 1.6 percent, moving the number of listed existing-homes to 1.93 million and representing a 4.7-month supply. The recent data showed a rise from February inventory levels, but remains almost 17 percent below levels seen in March 2012. 

"Buyer traffic is 25 percent above a year ago when we were already seeing notable gains in shopping activity," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of NAR. "The inventory improvement last month results from a seasonal gain, but conditions continue to broadly favor sellers. We need a housing supply of over six months to have a generally balanced market between home buyers and sellers, but it's unlikely we'll get there without greater increases in housing construction."

Homeowners buy for reasons other than financial
As an increasing number of individuals look to capitalize on mortgage records showing low rates, many may be deciding what kind of house to buy - but some could be doing so for different reasons. A recent Gallup poll surveyed American homeowners about their motivation for purchasing property, telling that their inspiration came from both financial and non-financial rationale.

A reported 16 percent of respondents cited the fact property is a good investment which typically appreciates in value, with 12 percent telling they hoped to build equity and credit with the purchase. Another 12 percent reported they decided to buy their home because they have always owned or simply believe in owning property, and 10 percent said their reason was because they don't want to pay rent to other people just to live in an area.

As consumers continue to gain confidence and housing developers look to increase inventory levels, the national housing market may again exhibit significant growth.

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