Home sales surged 17 percent in the West last month, as buyers scrambled to take advantage of low mortgage rates and qualify for tax credits that expire at the end of this month.
The median price in the 13-state Western region was $209,400, down almost 8 percent from a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.
Nationwide, by contrast, sales of previously occupied homes rose almost 20 percent from March of last year, without adjusting for seasonal factors. The median sales price was flat at $170,700,
Shoppers who have been on the hunt for some time can hear the clock ticking and are trying to make offers before the tax credits run out. Even some people who weren’t planning to buy are jumping in, said Kathi McLeod, sales manager for Windermere Real Estate in Boise, Idaho.
First-time buyers can get a federal tax break of up to $8,000, while current homeowners who relocate to a new home get up to $6,500.
”Last year, a lot of buyers were afraid to follow through with a purchase because of the economy and the extent that lending had changed,” she said. ”What we’re seeing now is confidence, as well as acceptance of what types of loan programs are available.”
Sales across most major Western metros improved in March, according to The Associated Press-Re/Max Monthly Housing Report, which tallies all home sales in the metropolitan statistical areas. The report, also released Thursday, counts sales filed by all real estate agents, regardless of company affiliation.
All but one of the 13 Western cities tracked in the report saw annual sales increases last month. Boise and Seattle both posted gains of more than 50 percent, according to the report. Los Angeles was the only major city that saw a decline in sales, off 7 percent.