Author: Colin Robins

According to RealtyTrac’s latest Residential and Foreclosure Sales Report for March and Q1 2014,U.S. residential properties sold at an estimated annual pace of roughly 5.2 million homes in March, a .4 percent increase from February, and up 8 percent from the previous year.

The median sales price for both distressed and non-distressed properties increased to $164,500, a 1 percent increase from February and a 10 percent increase from March 2013. The upward swing in sales price reflected the 24th consecutive month where U.S. median home prices increased on an annual basis.

The 10 percent increase was the biggest annual percentage increase in that 24-month span.
“The housing market showed signs of coming out of hibernation in March after a sluggish fall and winter,” said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. “Median home prices increased on a monthly basis following six consecutive months where they were flat or declining, and increased on an annual basis by the biggest percentage since hitting bottom in March 2012.”

Blomquist continued, “Sales volume also increased slightly from March to February following four consecutive monthly decreases, but both annual sales volume and median prices are still below their recent peaks in October and August respectively.”

According to RealtyTrac, 34 percent of all U.S. residential property sales were to buyers with different mailing addresses than their primary property address. RealtyTrac opines that these buyers are more than likely investors or second-home buyers. Additionally, 7 percent of all sales in March were multi-parcel transactions, a situation where multiple properties are sold on the same date and recorded on the same sales deed.

Despite the annual increase in residential sales volume nationally, six states and 21 of the nation’s 50 largest metros saw declines. States with decreasing sales volume compared to a year ago were Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Nevada, and Arizona.
Distressed sales also experienced a hike. Short sales and distressed sales accounted for 16.4 percent of all sales in Q1, up from 14.5 percent from the previous quarter. However, the first quarter figure was down from 18.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Short sales nationally made up 5.6 percent of all sales in the first quarter, a .4 percent increase from 5.2 percent of all sales in the fourth quarter of 2013. Metros with the highest percentage of short sales in the first quarter included Orlando, Florida (16.6 percent), Tampa, Florida (14.6 percent), Las Vegas, Nevada (14.1 percent), Miami, Florida (13.7 percent), Jacksonville, Florida (13.7 percent), and Memphis, Tennessee (12.7 percent).

“Meanwhile, the distressed share of sales increased from the fourth quarter to the first quarter nationwide and in 38 states, which—along with many non-distressed homeowners regaining enough equity to list their homes for sale—is helping to ease low inventory conditions in some markets,” Blomquist noted.REO properties made up 9.6 percent of all sales in the first quarter, and public foreclosure actions accounted for 1.2 percent of all sales nationwide.

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