February existing-home sales declined from an upwardly revised January pace but are well above a year ago, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Total existing-home sales slipped 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million in February from an upwardly revised 4.63 million in January, but are 8.8% higher than the 4.22 million-unit level in February 2011. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $156,600 in February, up 0.3% from February 2011. Distressed homes accounted for 34% of February sales (20% were foreclosures, and 14% were short sales), down from 35% in January and 39% in February 2011.
The total housing inventory at the end of February rose 4.3% to 2.43 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a six-month supply in January. Single-family home sales declined 1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.06 million in February from 4.1 million in January, but are 9.4% higher than the 3.71 million-unit level a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $157,100 in February, which is 0.1% above February 2011.
Existing condominium and co-op sales were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 and are 3.9% above the 510,000-unit pace in February 2011.Â The median existing-condo price was $153,000 in February, up 1.6% from a year ago.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 3.3% to an annual level of 580,000 in February, but are 5.5% above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $225,800, down 1.9% from February 2011. Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1% in February to a pace of 1.02 million and are 13.3% higher than in February 2011. The median price in the Midwest was $120,500, which is 0.5% below a year ago.
In the South, existing-home sales increased 0.6% to an annual level of 1.77 million in February and are 9.3% higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $138,100, up 1.8% from February 2011. Existing-home sales in the West declined 3.2% to an annual pace of 1.22 million in February but are 6.1% above February 2011. The median price in the West was $195,300, up 3.1% from a year ago.
‘The market is trending up unevenly, with record-high consumer buying power and sustained job gains giving buyers the confidence they need to get into the market,’ says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. ‘Although relatively unusual, there will be rising demand for both rental space and homeownership this year. The great suppression in household formation during the past four years was unsustainable, and a pent-up demand could burst forth from the improving economy.’