The U.S. housing market is heating up at the start of the spring selling season.
Sales of previously owned homes jumped 6.1% in March compared with the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million, the National Assn. of Realtors said Wednesday.
An improved job market and historically low mortgage rates are boosting buyer confidence and "finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years," the Realtors group's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said.
Sales rose in all regions and climbed 6.3% in the West.
The March sales surge is an encouraging sign for a housing market that had slowed. But listings and home construction need to grow to tame price appreciation that has locked many first-time buyers out of the market, Yun said.
The national median price for a previously owned home was $212,100 last month, up 7.8% from a year earlier.