Distressed Properties Down to 29% of March Home Sales

Sales of existing homes were down in March, but outpaced year-ago levels as inventory tightened and home prices stabilized, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Meanwhile, the portion of sales that included foreclosed properties in March slipped to 29 percent, from 34 percent in February and 40 percent a year ago.
The decline in overall inventories could affect market dynamics in some states, the NAR said.
“We were expecting a seasonal increase in home listings, but a lack of inventory has suddenly become an issue in several markets with not enough homes for sale in relation to buyer interest,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Home sales could be held back because of supply factors and not by demand – we’re already seeing this in the Western states and in South Florida.”
Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops –  declined 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million in March, from an upwardly revised 4.60 million in February.
But transactions are 5.2 percent above the 4.26 million-unit pace in March 2011.
Total housing inventory in March declined 1.3 percent to 2.37 million existing homes available for sale, representing a 6.3-month supply at the current sales pace, the same as in February.
Listed inventory is 21.8 percent below a year ago, and well below the record of 4.04 million in July 2007.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $163,800 in March, up 2.5 percent from March 2011.
Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts – accounted for 29 percent of March sales (18 percent were foreclosures and 11 percent were short sales), compared with 34 percent in February and 40 percent in March 2011.
Foreclosures typically sold for an average 19 percent below market price in March, while short sales were discounted 16 percent.
Investors purchased 21 percent of homes in March, down from 23 percent in February and 22 percent in March 2011.  First-time buyers accounted for 33 percent of transactions in March; they were 32 percent in February and 33 percent in March 2011.

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