Home sales increased slightly in March compared to February, according to RealtyTrac's Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report.
Sales of single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses sold at an estimated annual pace of 5,253,464, an increase of 0.4% from February and up 8% from a year ago.
The report's findings are more or less in line with data reported earlier this week by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showing that existing-home sales rose 0.2% in March, compared to February. The NAR report, however, only focuses on existing-home sales and uses a different methodology.
RealtyTrac's report shows that distressed sales and short sales accounted for about 16% of all sales in the first quarter, up from 14.5% in the previous quarter but still down from 18.5% in the first quarter of 2013. Metro areas with the highest share of combined short sales and distressed sales were Las Vegas (41.6%); Stockton, Calif. (34.8%); Detroit (34.2%); Cleveland (34.2%); and Dayton, Ohio (33.4%).
Short sales accounted for 5.6% of all sales in the first quarter, up from 5.2% of all sales in the fourth quarter but down from 7% in the first quarter of 2013. Metros with a high percentage of short sales in the first quarter included Orlando, Fla. (16.6%); Tampa (14.6%); Las Vegas (14.1%); Miami (13.7%); Jacksonville, Fla.; (13.7%); and Memphis, Tenn. (12.7%).
Sales of bank-owned properties (REO) nationwide accounted for 9.6% of all sales in the first quarter, up from 8.6% of all sales in the previous quarter but down from 10.6% of all sales in the first quarter of 2013. Metro areas with the highest percentage of bank-owned sales in the first quarter were Dayton, Ohio (27.1%); Akron, Ohio (25.2%); Modesto, Calif. (25%); Stockton, Calif. (24.6%); Cleveland (23.8%); Las Vegas (23.7%); and Detroit (22.3%).
Sales at public foreclosure auctions accounted for 1.2% of all sales nationwide in the first quarter, up from 0.7% in the fourth quarter and up from 0.9% in the first quarter of 2013. Metro areas with the highest percentage of auction sales in the first quarter were Lakeland, Fla. (5.4%); Miami (4%); Las Vegas (3.8%); Atlanta (3.5%); and Charlotte, N.C. (3.4%).
The median sales price – including both distressed and non-distressed sales – was $164,500 in March, up 1% from February and up 10% from March 2013.
March was the 24th consecutive month where U.S. median home prices increased on an annual basis.
"The housing market showed signs of coming out of hibernation in March after a sluggish fall and winter," says Daren Blomquist, vice president 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."
Investors and second homebuyers accounted for 34% of all sales in March.
To read the full report, click here.