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Buyers Undeterred by Home Prices

April 22, 2021

The median existing-home sales price surged to a record high in March, climbing 17.2% annually, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. Median prices nationwide reached a historic high of $329,100. All major regions of the U.S. posted double-digit annual price gains.

“Consumers are facing much higher home prices, rising mortgage rates, and falling affordability,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “However, buyers are still actively in the market.”

Existing-home sales—including completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—eased 3.7% in March compared to February, but it wasn’t due to any let-up in buyer demand but blamed on ongoing housing shortages from a lack of homes for sale. Sales year-over-year, however, are still up 12.3%, NAR reports.

“The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory,” Yun says. “Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising.”

Properties typically sold in 18 days—a record low, NAR reports. “Without an increase in supply, the society wealth division will widen with homeowners enjoying sizable equity gains while renters will struggle to become homeowners,” Yun says.

NAR has made it a priority to be at the forefront of the anticipated economic revival, adds Charlie Oppler, NAR’s president. “We will continue pushing for an increase in housing construction and inventory, with the goal of helping qualified buyers and countless families achieve the American Dream of homeownership,” Oppler says.

Here’s a closer look at NAR’s latest existing-home sales report:

Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $329,100. Broken out for just single-family homes, median home sales prices jumped 18.4% to $334,500, also a historic high. March’s national price jump marked 109 consecutive months of annual gains.

Housing inventories: Housing inventory increased to 1.07 million units by the end of March, down 28% year-over-year.

Days on the market: Eighty-three percent of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month. Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 29 days a year ago.

First-time buyers: First-time buyers comprised 32% of sales in March, down from 34% a year earlier.

All-cash transactions: All-cash sales accounted for 23% of transactions in March, up from 19% a year ago. Individual investors and second-home buyers tend to make up the largest bulk of cash sales. Individual investors and second-home buyers purchased 15% of homes in March, up from 13% a year earlier.

Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales represented less than 1% of sales in March, down from 3% a year ago.