In March, for the second straight month, home resales slipped nationwide.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, March 2012 Existing Home
to 4.48 million units on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis -- a 3
percent drop from February.
An "existing home" is a home that's been previously occupied or owned.
The weaker-than-expected Existing Home Sales data is the third such housing
report this month to suggest a lull in the spring housing market. Earlier this
week, homebuilder confidence slipped for the first time in three months and
March Single-Family Housing Starts fell, too.
The news wasn't entirely bad for home resales, however. Although total home
units sold decreased, so did the number of homes available for sale. There were
million homes for sale nationwide in March, a 2 percent drop from the month
At the current pace of sales, therefore, the entire nation's home resale
stock would "sell out" in 6.3 months. This is the second-fastest pace since the
housing market's April 2007 peak.
A 6-month supply is widely believed to represent a market in balance between
buyers and sellers.
The March Existing Home Sales data shows that -- despite record-low mortgage
rates nationwide -- buyer activity is slowing, and seller
activity may be slowing, too.
So long as the two forces remain in balance, home prices should do the
same. This is the law of Supply and Demand at work.
However, if home sales continue to slide and home inventory builds, buyers
may find themselves with an edge in negotiations.
If you're planning to buy a home in 2012, the long-term housing trend is
still toward recovery. This season may be a good time to look at your options.
Talk to your real estate agent to see what's available. Low mortgage rates may
persist, but low home prices may not.