Sales of existing-home sales in the United States rose in March 2011, continuing the uneven recovery that began after sales bottomed last July, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Existing-home sales - which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops – were up 3.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.10 million in March from an upwardly revised 4.92 million in February, but are 6.3% below the 5.44 million pace in March 2010. Sales were at elevated levels from March through June of 2010 in response to the home buyer tax credit.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects the improving sales pattern to continue. He said that, with existing home sales showing increases in six of the last eight months, "we’re clearly on a recovery path. With rising jobs and excellent affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012."
Not every month in 2011 will show an increase, he said, and said it was mostly because some buyers find getting a mortgage too difficult. "For those fortunate enough to qualify for financing, monthly mortgage payments as a percent of income have been at record lows," he added.
NAR’s housing affordability index shows the typical monthly mortgage principal and interest payment for the purchase of a median-priced existing home is only 13% of gross household income, the lowest since records began in 1970.
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