The Northeast increased sharply by 10.1% to an annual rate of 760,000 and are now 4.1% above levels a year ago.
Distressed sales were 6% of the total in March, which are down from 8% a year ago.
"Bolstered by strong consumer confidence and underlying demand, home sales are up convincingly from a year ago nationally and in all four major regions despite the fact that buying a home has gotten more expensive over the past year".
And even inventory levels rose, at least on a month-by-month basis.
Total existing home sales, completed transactions including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.71 million in March, according to NAR's report.
Across the country, inventory did inch up in March.
"The spring housing market is off to an early and strong start, said realtor.com Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, Ph.D".
At March's sales pace, it would take 3.8 months to clear the stock of houses on the market, unchanged from February.
Gas prices still climbing in northern New England
These contributing factors could result in a reduction in crude price volatility and increased market stability. Statewide, the average cost is $2.18, which is up 4 cents, according to the website survey.
Nationwide sales surged in March, reaching to their swiftest pace in more than a decade.
Sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million last month from a downwardly revised 5.47 million in February.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days. "Sales will go up as long as inventory does".
"A growing pool of all types of buyers is competing for the lackluster amount of existing homes on the market", Yun said.
Absent more homebuilding, he added, "prices will continue to far outpace incomes and put pressure on those trying to buy".
Existing-home sales in the South and West covered less ground in March, with sales in the South rising 3.4 percent to 2.42 million, with a median price of $210,600, and sales in the West falling 1.6 percent to 1.22 million, with a median price of $347,500. Forty-eight percent of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month. The median price in the Midwest came in at $183,000, up 6.2% from a year ago.
First-time homebuyers comprised 32 percent of existing-home sales in March. Although the average 30-year mortgage rate dipped during the last week to just below 4 percent, in March the average was 4.20 percent, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. Condos sold for an average of $130,309, posting a 9.9 percent annual price gain.
"The pace of sales we saw in March is unsustainable", said Nela Richardson, chief economist at the brokerage Redfin.