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A number of aspects in the American residential housing market may be heading in the right direction, but the poor weather conditions during the first few months of the year may have held back some sales growth.
The total rate of existing-home sales reached 4.59 million units in March, 0.2 percent lower than the previous month's level of 4.6 million, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed. The latest measurement also was down from the year-ago figure, as it slid 7.5 percent from March 2013's 4.96 million units.
"There really should be stronger levels of home sales given our population growth," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. "In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory shortages."
The market may have been slow to start the year, but the residential housing situation may experience its fortunes changing in the coming months.
"With ongoing job creation and some weather delayed shopping activity, home sales should pick up, especially if inventory continues to improve and mortgage interest rates rise only modestly," said Yun.
Despite some problems with sales, the pricing situation is on an upward slope. The report showed that the median price for these homes improved to $198,500, which was 7.9 percent higher than the same month in 2013.
Mortgage rates fall slightly
Many potential homebuyers may be looking at the current mortgage rate situation as a chance to acquire a loan at a more affordable level, especially with the prospect of continued rising home prices. According to a report from Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.27 percent during the week ending April 17, 2014. This was slightly lower than the previous week's figure of 4.34 percent, though both were notably higher than the year-ago average of 3.41 percent.
"Mortgage rates continued to ease this week as housing starts rose 2.8 percent in March but not as much as expected," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. "Also, permits fell 2.4 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000, which followed a slight downward revision of 4,000 permits in February."
For the 15-year FRM, the average was 3.33 percent during the latest measurement, the report added. One week previous, the level was 3.38 percent, while it was also 2.64 percent 12 months earlier.