Existing Home Sales - Report
Home Sales Pace
Sales of existing home sales fell for the fifth time in sixth months in February, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Total U.S. existing-home sales slipped 0.4 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.60 million, down from 4.62 million in January and down 7.1 percent from February 2013. Homes sales have nearly matched the 4.59 million low of July 2012.
"We had ongoing unusual weather disruptions across much of the country last month, with the continuing frictions of constrained inventory, restrictive mortgage lending standards and housing affordability less favorable than a year ago," said Nar chief economist Lawrence Yun. "Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead. With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year."
Even with little movement of home sales, home prices actually rose as a result of severely limited inventory. The median existing-home price rose to $189,000 in February, up from $187,900 in January and up 9.1 percent from the previous year.
The NAR defines existing homes as all previously-owned single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and co-ops. The group "seasonally adjusts" the sales numbers to factor in things like inclement weather, school sessions, winter holidays, etc. to smooth out the trends.
The NAR also describes its sales data based on an annual pace. The monthly figure represents the total number of housing units that would be sold in one year if the current rate were to continue unchanged.
Sales Pace by Region
Increases in sales in the West and South were offset by declines in the Midwest and Northeast. The Northeast took a major hit with an 11.3 percent decrease to an annual pace of 550,000 sales in February, down from 620,000 in January. Compared with the year before, however, sales were still up 1.5 percent.
In the Midwest, sales fell to an annual rate of 1.00 million, a 3.8 percent drop from January's 1.04 million. Sales are up 12.3 percent though from February 2013.
Sales in the South grew 1.5 percent to an annual level of 1.98 million homes, up from 1.95 million in January. Sales are down 0.5 percent, however, from the previous year.
The West saw a 5.9 percent pickup in sales in February to an annual rate of 1.07 million, up from 1.01 million the month before. They are down 10.1 percent from February 2013 though.
Sales Price by Region
The median sales price rose everywhere but the Northwest in February. In the Northwest, the price fell to $237,800, down from January's $241,200. Still the median is up 1.5 percent from the year before.
The median price in the Midwest rose to $140,900, up from $139,800 in January and it rose 8.6 percent from the one year earlier.
In the South, the median price increased to $163,400 in February, up from $159,900 the month before and up 8.3 percent from the previous year.
Prices in the West reached $279,400, up from $272,200 in January. The median price was up 18.0 percent from February 2013.
Inventory did rise in February, but not enough to appease buyers. Total inventory of existing-homes grew 6.4 percent to 2.00 million homes, representing a 5.2-month supply, up from a 4.9-month supply the month before. There were also 5.3 percent more homes for sale than there were in February 2013. Realtors consider the market to be balanced between supply and demand when there is a 6-month supply.
Data for March existing home sales, prices, and inventory will be available at the end of April.