Existing home sales decreased 3.0% in March to a seasonally adjusted 4.57 million unit rate, the National Association of Realtors announced yesterday.

The sales decline to 4.57 million, was larger than the drop to a 4.69 million unit pace predicted by Thomson Reuters’ poll of economists and followed a revised 4.71 million units, originally reported as a 5.1% climb to a 4.72 million unit level in February.

On a year-over-year basis, sales overall were down 7.1% from a 4.92 million unit sales pace last March.

“The share of lower-priced home sales has trended up, indicating a return of many first-time buyers, which we also see in a parallel member survey,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Sales in the upper price ranges remain stalled because of higher interest rates on jumbo loans.”

Inventory levels slipped 1.6% at the end of March, to 3.737 million existing homes for sale, representing a 9.8-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 9.7 months last month.

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