NAR: First-Time Buyers Responding to Low Mortgage Rates

A report released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors [NAR], said existing-home sales eased in March but first-time buyers are responding to low mortgage interest rates and tax credits.

From NAR: Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – declined 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units in March from a downwardly revised level of 4.71 million in February, and were 7.1 percent lower than the 4.92 million-unit pace in March 2008.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market appears to be stabilizing with modest monthly ups and downs, and that first-time buyers are driving the market. “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,” he said. “Sales in the upper price ranges remain stalled because of higher interest rates on jumbo loans.”

Total housing inventory at the end of March fell 1.6 percent to 3.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.8-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with a 9.7-month supply in February.

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