The Morning Report
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A lot more resale homes were sold in March than in February, but that’s how it happens every year. As a matter of fact, this year’s February-to-March rise of 23 percent looks pretty weak compared to last year’s 40 percent increase. Between March 2007 and March 2008, sales volume declined by almost 34 percent.

Things looked brighter on the inventory front. Despite a seasonal tendency to rise, resale inventory was pretty much unchanged from February. This compares to an increase of almost 5 percent between February and March of 2007. However, inventory was still 17 percent higher than it had been a year prior.

The steep rise in sales made for an equally steep drop in the number of months’ worth of inventory sitting on the market. However, if past seasonal patterns hold, that figure will start creeping up in the months ahead. Even if it doesn’t, 10 months’ worth of inventory represents a level that is understood to put serious pressure on home prices. The unusually high proportion of “must-sell” inventory — typically properties that are bank-owned or vacant — will likely apply more pressure still.

— RICH TOSCANO

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