US existing-home sales rose in March at the fastest pace for over ten years according to the latest data released by the National Association of Realtors.
The existing-home sales figures, which include single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops where transactions have been completed, rose by 4.4 per cent in March, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million. Up from 5.47 million in February.
Existing-home sales are up by 5.9 per cent year-on-year from March 2016 and represents the strongest annual sales rise since February 2007, before the global financial crisis.
Prices are also up, with the average existing-home value reaching $236,400. This represented a 6.8 per cent rise from the March 2016 figure of $221,400.
The price increase in March is the 61st consecutive monthly year-on-year increase, as the consistent US property recovery enters the sixth year.
It is thought that a shortage of available properties is helping to boost property prices, as although the total housing existing-home inventory rose from February by 5.8 per cent to 1.83 million, it is still 6.6 per cent lower than the 1.96 million available a year ago.
The existing-home inventory of properties available for sale has now fallen year-on-year for 22 straight months.
NAR chief economist, Lawrence Yun, commented: ‘The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month.
‘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. Sales will go up as long as inventory does.’
Yun went on to add: ‘Bolstered by strong consumer confidence and underlying demand, home sales are up convincingly from a year ago nationally and in all four major regions despite the fact that buying a home has gotten more expensive over the past year.’
Properties are also now selling quicker in the US, with the average property staying on the market for just 34 days in March. A marked improvement from the 45 days that sales were taking in February and the average 47 days that properties took to sell a year ago.
In fact, 48 per cent of all properties sold in March had been on the open market for less than a month before selling.
US mortgage provider Freddie Mac confirmed that the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose for the fifth straight month in March to 4.20 percent from 4.17 percent in February. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.
Regionally the rise in existing-home sales was led by the Northeast where property sales numbers rose by 10.1 per cent, closely followed by the Midwest where a rise of 9.2 per cent was recorded.
Existing-home sales in the South rose by a more modest 3.4 per cent, whilst the West actually still showed a slight decrease of 1.6 per cent.
With the US property recovery now into the 6th year of consecutive monthly rises, it does seem to represent a safe-haven for overseas property investors.