Existing-home sales in West up 19% in March from last year

The West, including New Mexico, was the only part of the country to see sales of existing homes increase in March from the same month of 2008, according to data released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors. Home sales in the West rose 18.9 percent to 1.13 million last month from 950,000 in March 2008, according to seasonally adjusted NAR data.
Adjusted existing home sales in the western U.S. were down 4.2 percent last month from February.
NAR adjusts its sales data to factor out seasonal difference in activity, such as higher-than-normal sales in summer than winter because of weather and consumer buying patterns. The association contends removing seasonal variances gives a better perspective on how the resale market is performing.
As real estate experts expected, March existing home sales nationwide were driven largely by first-time homebuyers taking advantage of low interest rates and stimulus-related tax credits.
“The share of lower-priced homes has trended up, indicating a return of many first-time buyers,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Sales in the upper price ranges remained stalled because of higher interest rates on jumbo loans.”
Existing homes are those that have sold at least once.
NAR data includes single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes and co-ops.
March sales in the other three regions of the country tracked by NAR, compared to the year-prior month, were down 10.9 percent (South) to 22.5 percent (Northeast). Nationwide, existing home sales dropped 7.1 percent to 4.57 million.
Median selling price for homes in the West last month dropped 11.1 percent to $252,400 from $283,900 from March 2008, the report said. Selling prices are not seasonally adjusted.
Median selling price is the middle price between highest and lowest, and is considered a truer measure of price than average, according to real estate experts.
The nationwide median selling price in March was $175,200, down 12.4 percent year over year.
New Mexico Business Weekly