Total existing-home sales increased 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million in February from an upwardly revised 4.94 million in January and are 10.2% above the 4.52 million-unit level seen in February 2012, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). February sales were at the highest level since the tax credit period of November 2009.
Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 9.6% to 1.94 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.3 months in January, which was the lowest supply since May 2005. Listed inventory is 19.2% below a year ago when there was a 6.4-month supply.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in February, up 11.6% from February 2012. The last time there were 12 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from June 2005 to May 2006. NAR say that the February gain is the strongest since November 2005 when it was 12.9% above a year earlier.
Distressed homes accounted for 25% of February sales, up from 23% in January but down from 34% in February 2012. Fifteen percent of February sales were foreclosures and 10% were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18% below market value in February, while short sales were discounted 15%.