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Existing Home Sales Hit 1-1/2 Year Low

Harsh winter weather contributed to a slower sales pace


On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that existing home sales in the U.S. declined in March.

home for saleAccording NAR, existing home sales slid to a seasonally-adjusted yearly pace of 4.59 million units last month. That was down 0.2% and marked the slowest pace of existing homes sales since July 2012. Despite the slower sales rate, existing home sales topped economists forecast of a 4.57 million-unit sales pace, USA TODAY noted.

3 Homebuilders Building on Solid Foundations
3 Homebuilders Building on Solid Foundations

March was the third consecutive month in which existing home sales fell. Economists expected lower sales due to harsh winter weather across the U.S. during the first few months of the year. Also contributing to lower existing home sales, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has risen to 4.27%, up from about 3.4% last year.

The available inventory of existing homes rose to a 5.2-month supply. In February, there was a 5-month supply of existing homes. Last month, the median price of a single-family existing home climbed 7.4% compared to the year-ago period, hitting $198,200.

Foreclosure and distressed property sales comprised just 14% of home sales in March. During the sale period last year, such sales accounted for 21% of home sales.

Lower existing home sales didn’t hurt homebuilder stocks during the day. Toll Brothers (TOL) and DR Horton (DHI) both climbed about 2% in mid-day trading, while Ryland Group (RYL) moved up almost 1%.

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