Markets & Economy

Hot March home sales shake off negative equity, tight inventory

Economist: Existing-home sales still falling well short of potential

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Sales of existing homes jumped in March to their highest annual rate in 18 months, driven by improved buyer confidence that won out against tight inventory and high levels of "negative equity." Total existing-home sales -- which refer to completed sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops -- increased 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million in March from 4.89 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing-home sales posted a 10.7 percent gain in March compared to a year ago, marking the highest annual increase since August 2013. March's monthly sales increase reflected exceptional growth, representing the largest monthly pop since December 2010. The elevated sales activity followed a quiet start to the year, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a statement, and reflects the impact of low interest rates and ongoing stability in the job market. These market fundamentals are "impro...