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“The March housing market turned around the February market’s lackluster sales by 35 percent (248 vs. 184) and managed to increase the average and median selling prices by double digits. The total dollar volume from February to March increased by 51 percent,” stated Alan Jeffries, Association Executive, Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc.

“However, when we compare year-to-year results, the market in March 2018 had fewer houses sold at significantly higher prices from an inventory that was down 15 percent from March 2017,” continued Jeffries.

The number of houses sold in March 2018 declined 13 percent from March 2017 (248 vs. 285). While the monthly and year-to-date average and median selling prices set new records over the same month in 2017; the peak year in our year-to-year comparison back to 2006. Year-to-date, the number of houses sold was down 8 percent (622 vs 675).

The average selling price in March 2018 was $221,065 compared to $192,212 in March 2017 (15 percent increase). Year-to-date, the average selling price was up 10 percent ($210,965 vs. $191,723).

The median selling price in March 2018 jumped 21 percent to $157,725 from $129,900 in March 2017. Year-to-date, the median selling price was up 12 percent ($146,000 vs. $130,000).

The median price is the price at which 50% of the homes sold were above that price and 50% were below.

The increased selling prices, even with fewer houses sold in March 2018, pushed the total dollar volume to stay almost even with March 2017 ($54,824,314 vs. $54,780,625). There was a 1 percent difference in the year-to-date total dollar volume ($131,220,518 vs. $129,413,512). The year-to-date total dollar volume set a record over 2017 to become the highest set in the year-over-year comparison.

The inventory of houses for sale dropped 15 percent from March 2017. There were 1391 houses for sale at the end of March compared to 1646 in March 2017. In February 2018, the inventory had 1313 houses for sale at the end of the month. The market had 4.5-months supply of houses for buyers; up from 4.2 in January and February. In March 2010, there were 3218 houses for sale.

The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions decreased from 16 percent in February to 7 percent in March. The previous lowest percentage in March was 13 percent in 2017. The highest percentage in March was 60 percent in 2009.

Locally, the mortgage rate increased slightly to 4.577 from 4.53 percent in February. Last year in March, the rate was 4.365. Nationally, the Freddie Mac mortgage rate in March was 4.44 up from 4.43 in February for a 30-year conventional mortgage.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, – Existing-home sales grew for the second consecutive month in March, but lagging inventory levels and affordability constraints kept sales activity below year ago levels

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million in March from 5.54 million in February. Despite last month's increase, sales are still 1.2 percent below a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings in March eked forward despite challenging market conditions in most of the country. “Robust gains last month in the Northeast and Midwest – a reversal from the weather-impacted declines seen in February – helped overall sales activity rise to its strongest pace since last November at 5.72 million,” said Yun. “The unwelcoming news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year ago levels because supply is woefully low and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford."

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from March 2017 ($236,600). March's price increase marks the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains.

“Although the strong job market and recent tax cuts are boosting the incomes of many households, speedy price growth is squeezing overall affordability in several markets – especially those out West,” said Yun.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest sales increased 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in March but are still 1.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $192,200, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.

First-time buyers were 30 percent of sales in March, which is up from 29 percent last month but down from 32 percent a year ago. NAR's 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34 percent.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, says the extremely tight inventory in the entry-level segment of the market should greatly benefit homeowners looking to trade up this spring. “First-time buyers continue to make up an underperforming share of the market because there are simply not enough homes for sale in their price range,” she said. “Supply conditions improve in higher up price brackets, which means those trading up should see considerable interest in their home, as well as more listings to choose from during their own search.”

All-cash sales were 20 percent of transactions in March, which is down from 24 percent in February and 23 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in March, which is unchanged from February and down from 18 percent a year ago. 

Nationally, the total housing inventory at the end of March climbed 5.7 percent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale but is still 7.2 percent lower than a year ago (1.80 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 34 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace (3.8 months a year ago). 

The numbers reported for local sales include residential property in Berrien, Cass and the westerly 2/3 of Van Buren counties and should not be used to determine the market value of any individual property. If you want to know the market value of your property, please contact your local REALTOR®.About

The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Van Buren, Berrien and Cass Counties. The Association can be contacted at 269-983-6375 or through their website at www.swmar.com


The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.