February existing home sales rise 9.5% from January

Despite a slight uptick from January the year-over-year decrease remains in the low single digits

WASHINGTON — Existing home sales rose nearly 10% in February, representing what the National Association of Realtors said was the largest monthly sales increase in a year. They also fell 3.3% compared to February 2023, a slightly higher drop compared to January’s 1.7% year-over-year decrease.

Data released by the NAR Thursday said that there were 4.38 million existing homes sold in February, compared to a seasonally adjusted 4 million sold in January. Sales fell 3.3% compared to 4.53 million in February 2023.

The NAR said that while February year-over-year sales fell in all four regions of the country, they rose in the West, South and Midwest and remained unchanged in the Northeast compared to January.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said that additional housing supply is helping to satisfy market demand.

“Housing demand has been on a steady rise due to population and job growth, though the actual timing of purchases will be determined by prevailing mortgage rates and wider inventory choices.”

Citing Freddie Mac, the NAR said that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.74% as of March 14, down from 6.88% the week prior and up from 6.6% last year.

The NAR said that there were 1.07 million existing homes for sale at the end of February, up 5.9% from January and up 10.3% from the 970,000 units available in February 2023. There is a 2.9-month supply of unsold inventory based on the current rate of sale, which is down from three months in January and up from 2.6 months in February 2023.

The median existing home price for all housing types, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops was $384,500, up 5.7% from $363,600 last year, with all four regions posting price increases.

Single-family home sales rose to 3.97 million in February, up 10.3% from 3.6 million in January and down 2.7% from February 2023. The NAR also noted that the median existing single-family home price was $388,700, up 5.6% from about $368,000 in February 2023.

There were 410,000 condo and co-op sales in February, up 2.5% from January, but down 8.9% from 450,000 units sold in February 2023. The median existing condo price was $344,000, up 6.7% from $322,400 in February 2023.

The regional breakdown is as follows:

In the Northeast, there were 480,000 units sold, unchanged from January, but down 7.7% from February 2023. The median price was $420,600, up 11.5% from last year.

In the Midwest, there were 1.03 million units sold, up 8.4% from January and down 3.7% from February 2023. The median sales price in the region was $277,600, up 6.8% from February 2023.

In the South, there were 2.02 million homes sold in February, up 9.8% from January and down 2.9% from February 2023. The median sales price was $354,200, up 4.1% from February 2023.

In the West, there were 850,000 homes sold in February, up 16.4% from January, by far the largest monthly jump by region. Sales were down 1.2% from February 2023. The median price in the region was $593,000, up 9.1% from February 2023.

“Due to inventory constraints, the Northeast was the regional underperformer in February home sales, but the best performer in home prices,” Yun said. “More supply is clearly needed to help stabilize home prices and get more Americans moving to their next residences.”

Other takeaways from the report are as follows:

+ Properties remained on the market for roughly 38 days in February, up from 36 days in January and 34 days in February 2023.

+ First-time buyers accounted for 26% of sales in February, down from 28% in January and 27% in February 2023. Released this past November, the NAR’s 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 32%.

+ All-cash sales accounted for 33% of sales in February, up from 32% in January and 28% from February 2023. Individual investors, or second-home buyers that account for many cash sales, purchased 21% of homes in February, up from 17% in January and 18% in February 2023.

+ Distressed  sales, including foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 3% of sales in February, unchanged from January and February 2023.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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