Charlotte-area home sales were higher in March from a year ago, a good sign as the spring homebuying season heats up. But the supply of homes for sale and the average sales price both slipped.
The 18-county region posted 2,658 sales, up 1.4 percent from 2,622 a year ago, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association’s report on existing-home sales.
Supplies of homes for sale remain stubbornly low, frustrating potential buyers looking for a wider selection. Inventory dropped to a 5.1-month supply from a 5.7-month supply a year ago. A widely accepted definition of a buyer’s market is one with six months or more of inventory.
The average sales price declined 0.6 percent to $214,964, the first year-over-year decrease since January 2012. Economists are expecting annual gains in home prices nationwide to slow this year from the sizable annual gains posted in the past year or so.
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Sales in the 18-county area increased despite mortgage rates being higher than a year ago. The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage in March was 4.34 percent, up from 3.57 percent a year ago, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
Tuesday’s report showed that pending sales, those for which contracts have been accepted in that month, were higher than a year ago. Pending sales are generally expected to close in 30 to 45 days. March pending sales totaled 3,758, up 11.2 percent from a year earlier.
“We’re pleased to see forward looking indicators like pending contracts improve in March, which means that future sales look promising,” Joe Rempson, president of the association, said in a statement.
“Consumer confidence is on the rise, and even though inventory continues to be a challenge, we think there will be improvement in the months ahead.”