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The Buffalo Niagara housing market was hot during March

The Buffalo Niagara housing market stayed strong as it heads into the busy springtime home-buying season.

It’s become a familiar story. Home prices are rising fast because there are more people looking to buy a home than there are homes for sale. That’s reflected in the nearly 23 percent plunge in home sales during March – a decline that is a sign of strength in the local housing market, rather than an indication of weakness.

That’s partly because the supply of homes for sale keeps dropping, finishing March at a more than 20-year low, according to the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.

And there is no sign that’s about to change, with fewer homes being listed for sale during each of the last five months.

“With fewer homes for sale, strong buyer demand has continued to keep prices on the rise – a trend that should continue for the foreseeable future,” the real estate group said.

Local home prices are rising faster than they have in more than 20 years.

The median sale price of homes sold in March jumped by 11.7 percent in March, compared with a year ago. It was the biggest single-month increase in more than five years and the sixth time in the last eight months that the monthly median sale price rose by more than 10 percent.

Home sales plunged during March, falling by nearly 23 percent.

The reason: The tight supply of homes for sale made it harder for buyers to find a house they liked. And when buyers did find one, they generally had to pay more for it because of the increased competition.

That isn’t changing: Pending sales, which are deals that have been signed but haven’t closed, dropped by almost 7 percent during March.

There were fewer homes for sale during March than in any previous month dating back to 1998 – and probably many years before that.

The shortage of homes for sale – 2,407 were listed in March – is spurring competition among buyers and pushing up prices. But it isn’t prodding home owners into putting their houses on the market. New listings were down by 13 percent in March.

It’s a seller’s market – and that means homes are selling fast.

Homes in March sold after being on the market for an average of 54 days. That’s six days faster than a year ago and a full three weeks faster than in 2015.

Sellers are getting nearly 98 percent of their most-recent asking price. And the supply of homes for sale is down to just 2.4 months, far below the six-month supply that signals a market where buyers and sellers are on equal footing.

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