Existing-Home Sales Rose 3.0% in February
Washington, DC, March 21, 2018-Total existing-home sales grew 3.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in February from 5.38 million in January, according to the National Association of Realtors.
After last month’s increase, sales are now 1.1% above a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales were uneven across the country in February but did increase nicely overall. “A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” he said. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices – especially in the West-shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.”
Added Yun, “The unseasonably cold weather to start the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month. Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $241,700, up 5.9% from February 2017 ($228,200). February’s price increase marks the 72nd straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 4.6% to 1.59 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 8.1% lower than a year ago (1.73 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 33 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace (3.8 months a year ago).
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage moved higher for the fifth straight month to 4.33% in February (highest since 4.34% in April 2014) from 4.03% in January. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99%.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 37 days in February, which is down from 41 days in January and 45 days a year ago. Forty-six percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.