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U.S. home resales rose more than expected in March to the highest level in more than a decade, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced on Friday.
Existing home sales climbed 4.4 percent for the month, while economists were expecting a smaller increase of 2.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.
Sales have now increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million units as of last month, the NAR said. This is the highest level the gauge has seen since February 2007.
While the number of homes on the market rose 5.8 percent to 1.83 million units last month, housing inventory was down 6.6 percent from one year ago, implying that demand is outweighing supply.
Properties typically remained on the market for 34 days in March, compared to 45 days in February, the NAR added.
"The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month," Lawrence Yun, a chief economist for the industry group, said in a statement. "Sales will go up as long as inventory does."
U.S. home resales fell more than expected in February amid a shortage of houses on the market, which pushed prices up and sidelined potential buyers. The NAR reported February existing home sales declined 3.7 percent, missing analysts' estimates, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million units.
Prior to that data being released, January's sales pace remained unchanged at 5.69 million units.
The NAR's existing home sales data measures sales and prices of existing single-family homes for the nation overall, providing breakdowns for the West, Midwest, South and Northeast regions of the U.S. These figures also include condos and co-ops.
— Reuters contributed to this report.