Buyers, Realtors and brokers look over a 1920s California Bungalow for… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. slipped from the prior month as prices continued to rise -- a sign that demand for housing continues to outstrip supply.
Home sales fell 0.6% in March from the prior month, to hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million units, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. The March sales pace was still 10.3% higher than March 2012.
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The median home price was up 6.2% from the prior month and 11.8% from the same month a year earlier, to hit $184,300. The gains in March were the strongest since November 2005. It was the 13th consecutive year-over-year gain in prices.
“Home construction is rising and low mortgage rates are continuing to keep affordability conditions at historically favorable levels,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the real estate group. “The bad news is that underwriting standards remain excessively tight, while renters are getting squeezed by higher rents.”
Housing inventory increased at the end of March by 1.6% so that an estimated 1.93 million homes were available for sale at the end of the month. That represents a supply of just over 4 1/2 months.
Sales of foreclosures and short sales accounted for just 21% of all sales last month, down from 25% in February and 29% the same month a year prior.
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