Home sales dip in March

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Home sales slipped slightly in March, according to the latest reading from the National Association of Realtors, but were at much stronger levels than a year ago. The Realtors’ report on the sale of previously owned homes Monday showed the annual sales rate in March came in at 492,000, down 0.6 percent from February, but up 10.3 percent from a year ago. Recent months have seen improvement in a number of market fundamentals that have lead to a recovery in the housing market. Those factors include a drop in foreclosures, near record-low mortgage rates, rising home prices and a drop in unemployment. All are helping to bring more buyers back into the market. The recovery in housing also has led to a rebound in home building and stronger new-home sales, but the market for previously owned homes dwarfs the new-home market. Monday’s report provided further evidence of this improvement in market fundamentals. Sales of distressed home fell to 21 percent of the market from 25 percent of the sales in February, and 29 percent a year ago. Distressed sales include both the sale of foreclosed homes and short sales, which are sold for less than the amount owed on the mortgage. The median price of a home sold in the month rose 6 percent from February and 11 percent from a year ago to $184,300. And homes were on the market for an average of about two months, down from 91 days a year ago. “Multiple bidding is becoming more common, and more homes are selling above the asking price,” said Gary Thomas, president of the Realtors.