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Home Sales in Spring off to a Slow Start

The spring homebuying season in 2019 is off to a slow start despite home sales climbing almost 29% in March compared with February according to data from the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report [1].

In fact, the report [2] indicated that this is the slowest start to the homebuying season in five years with home sales remaining 8.6% below March 2018 levels. According to the report, from 2015 to 2018 the housing market saw average sales during the start of the spring season (February to March) averaging 37%. March 2019's month-over-month increase of 28.8% was the smallest since 24.6% in 2014.

March saw the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year sales declines according to the report. It also saw the sixth straight month of year-over-year inventory growth, with a 5.3% gain.

Median sales prices also grew year-over-year by 3.4%. However, these gains were smaller than January and February which had seen gains of 4.6% and 5.5% respectively. However, the median sales price has risen by more than 3% year-over-year in 17 of the last 18 months.

"It was encouraging to see month-over-month sales improve during March," said Adam Contos, CEO, RE/MAX. "Although the seasonal bounce that typically ends the first quarter wasn't as strong as in the past few years, conditions are in place for a healthy spring selling season."

Days on the market for homes also increased from 57 days in March 2018 to 59 days this year, while Months Supply of Inventory declined year-over-year to 2.7 months from three months.

Regionally, Burlington, Vermont saw the highest increase in sales which rose 48.3% followed by Wichita, Kansas (46.8%) and San Francisco (44.3%). However, San Francisco was also among the two metros that saw a year-over-year price decline at -3.8%. At -1.4%, Hartford, Connecticut was the only other metro to see a price decline.

Despite the slow start, Contos is optimistic about the spring homebuying season this year. "Falling interest rates, rising inventory and moderating price increases against the backdrop of a healthy overall economy are cause for optimism for buyers and sellers alike," he said.