A lack of homes on the market both restricted real estate sales in March and led to higher prices for the real estate that sold, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The association reported this week that March sales fell 0.6% off of February's pace, which had already been revised downward, but the pace remained a solid 10.3 % higher than sales in March 2012.
The primary culprit, the association said, was a lack of available inventory for sale. The association reported that its numbers indicated a 4.7-month supply of available homes, significantly under the six-month supply that the association said was generally needed in order to have a market properly balanced between supply and demand.
"The inventory improvement last month results from a seasonal gain, but conditions continue to broadly favor sellers. We need a housing supply of over six months to have a generally balanced market between home buyers and sellers, but it's unlikely we'll get there without greater increases in housing construction," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
The NAR reported that the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $184,300 in March, which is 11.8% percent higher than the same month last year. The March increase is the strongest since November 2005 when it rose 12.9% from a year earlier, and the last time there were 13 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from May 2005 to May 2006.
The association also reported that the pace of sales of homes due to foreclosure or short sales also slipped.