Existing Home Sales Declined 7.2% in February
Washington, DC, March 18, 2022-Total existing-home sales sank 7.2% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.02 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Year-over-year, sales decreased 2.4% (6.17 million in February 2021).
"Housing affordability continues to be a major challenge, as buyers are getting a double whammy: rising mortgage rates and sustained price increases," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Some who had previously qualified at a 3% mortgage rate are no longer able to buy at the 4% rate.
"Monthly payments have risen by 28% from one year ago-which interestingly is not a part of the consumer price index-and the market remains swift with multiple offers still being recorded on most properties."
Total housing inventory at the end of February totaled 870,000 units, up 2.4% from January and down 15.5% from one year ago (1.03 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 1.7-month supply at the current sales pace, up from the record-low supply in January of 1.6 months and down from 2.0 months in February 2021.
Yun notes that rising rates and escalating prices have prevented many consumers from making a purchase.
"The sharp jump in mortgage rates and increasing inflation is taking a heavy toll on consumers' savings," he said. "However, I expect the pace of price appreciation to slow as demand cools and as supply improves somewhat due to more home construction."
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $357,300, up 15.0% from February 2021 ($310,600), as prices grew in each region. This marks 120 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.
Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in February, down from 19 days in January and 20 days in February 2021. Eighty-four percent of homes sold in February 2022 were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 29% of sales in February, up from 27% in January and down from 31% in February 2021. NAR's 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers-released in late 2021-reported that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34%.
Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 19% of homes in February, down from 22% in January but up from 17% in February 2021. All-cash sales accounted for 25% of transactions in February, down from 27% in January and up from 22% in February 2021.
Distressed sales-foreclosures and short sales-represented less than 1% of sales in February, equal to the percentage seen in both January 2022 and February 2021.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.76% in February, up from 3.45% in January. The average commitment rate across all of 2021 was 2.96%.