What You Need to Know about March Housing Numbers

The highlights from the latest housing report from the National Association of Realtors.

House hunters started to hit the streets again in March after a long, frigid winter. That led to a spike in homes sales across the country, according to a monthly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

It was the strongest level of sales in a year and a half, with homes selling at an annual pace of 5.19 million during the month. This represents a 6.1% increase compared with February and 10.4% higher than March 2014.

“The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability of the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR.

Prices also increased: The median home sold for $212,100, up 7.8 % from 12 months earlier. Despite that rise, affordability remained good thanks to low mortgage rates. The benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan averaged under 3.8% in March, according to Freddie Mac.

Fortunately, inventory in many markets is showing signs of improvement, too. As the weather warms, more sellers are preparing to market their homes, anticipating a rise in demand.

The number of listings rose to 2 million in March, up 5.3% month-over-month. This additional inventory gives buyers more homes to consider and increases the odds that they’ll find just what they’re looking for.

“The modest rise in housing supply at the end of the month despite the strong growth in sales is a welcoming sign,” said Yun. “For sales to build upon their current pace, homeowners will increasingly need to be confident in their ability to sell their home while having enough time and choices to upgrade or downsize.”

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To get a glimpse at what’s out there, check out this beautifully restored antique home in Naugatuck, Connecticut (above), where $299,900 gets you three bedrooms, a three-car garage and a charming, built-in china cabinet in the dining room.

Les is a Real Estate Market Specialist for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Born and raised in Whitestone, N.Y., and never having lived outside of NYC, Les is a graduate of City College of New York in Manhattan. Les switched careers in his late 30s, studying writing at New School and Brooklyn Polytechnic, now the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. Les has written for several magazines and copyedited books on early childhood education prior to joining CNNMoney as a personal finance writer, where his main beat was real estate. His wife and partner of 42 years is a retired magazine editor who spent her career at the New York Zoological Society (Bronx Zoo). They are residents of the Upper West Side.

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