Sales of residential properties were
marginally higher in March than in February and the median price of both
distressed and non-distressed properties also increased slightly RealtyTrac
said today. Sales of single-family
homes, condominiums, and townhomes were at an annual rate of 5,253,464 units in
March, up 0.4 percent from February. The
sales pace was 8 percent higher than in March 2013.
The median price of all residential
properties was $164,500, a 1 percent increase from the previous month and 10
percent above the median price one year earlier. RealtyTrac said this was the 24th
consecutive month that median house prices posted annual growth and the 10
percent March to March change was the largest of those increases.
"The housing market showed signs of coming out
of hibernation in March after a sluggish fall and winter," said Daren
Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Median home prices increased on a
monthly basis following six consecutive months where they were flat or
declining, and increased on an annual basis by the biggest percentage since
hitting bottom in March 2012.
"Sales volume also increased
slightly from March to February following four consecutive monthly decreases,
but both annual sales volume and median prices are still below their recent
peaks in October and August respectively," Blomquist continued. "Meanwhile, the
distressed share of sales increased from the fourth quarter to the first
quarter nationwide and in 38 states, which - along with many non-distressed
homeowners regaining enough equity to list their homes for sale - is helping to
ease low inventory conditions in some markets."
Investor interest in the residential
market remained strong. Based on buyer
mailing addresses more than one-third (34 percent) of March sales appeared to
involve non-owner occupants, most likely investors or second home buyers. In addition, 7 percent of March sales were multi-parcel
transactions where several properties were sold on the same date and recorded
on the same sales document.
Despite the annual increase in
residential sales volume nationwide, sales were down from a year earlier in six
states, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Nevada, and
Arizona. Sales were also down in 21 of
the 50 largest metropolitan areas including some which were notable hot spots a
few months ago. San Jose saw sales fall
18 percent from a year earlier, San Francisco was down 15 percent, and Las
Vegas and Phoenix decreased by 12 percent and 11 percent respectively.
Likewise many metro areas that have
seen massive price appreciation since reaching their respective troughs are now
seeing more moderate price growth. The
median price of a home in San Francisco has risen 94 percent after bottoming
out in March 2009 and posted an annual increase of 39 percent in June of last
year but by last month the appreciation had slowed to 26 percent. The median price in Detroit is 92 percent
above the May 2009 trough and the area had a 38 percent annual increase in
October but now the annual increase is 29 percent. RealtyTrac reports a similar pattern in Fort
Myers, Phoenix, and Atlanta.
Short sales and distressed sales -
in foreclosure or bank-owned - accounted for 16.4 percent of all sales in the
first quarter, up from 14.5 percent in the previous quarter but still down from
18.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013. Short sales alone accounted for 5.6 percent
and an additional 1.2 percent of sales nationwide took place at public
Some metro areas are still
experiencing high levels of non-equity sales. In Las Vegas, Stockton,
California, Detroit, Cleveland, and Dayton combined short sales and distressed
sales exceeded one third of the March total.