Existing home sales rose a meager 1.2 percent in February, totaling to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million, according data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales are 4.7 percent higher than a year ago and above year-over-year totals for the fifth consecutive month. The median existing home price for all housing types in February was $202, 600. That is 7.5 percent above the February 2014 price. This marks the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains since last year.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a press release there has been some stagnation in home growth in the past few months, despite February sales showing slight improvement. He said weather had a likely impact on sales as more moderate growth was seen in Northeast and Midwest regions compared to others.
“Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels,” he said. “Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before rates rise.”
Total housing inventory at the end of February increased 1.6 percent to 1.89 million existing homes available for sale, but remains 0.5 percent below a year ago. For the second straight month, unsold inventory is at a 4.6 month supply at the current sales pace.
“With all indications pointing to a rate increase from the Federal Reserve this year – perhaps as early as this summer – affordability concerns could heighten as home prices and rents both continue to exceed wages,” Yun said.
Single-family home sales increased 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.34 million in February from 4.28 million in January, and are 5.9 percent above the 4.10 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $204,200 in February, up 8.2 percent from February 2014.
February existing-home sales in the Northeast dropped 6.5 percent to an annual rate of 580,000, but still are up 3.6 percent from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $241,800, which is 3.3 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, existing-home sales were at an annual level of 1.08 million in February, unchanged from January and 4.9 percent above February 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $152,900, up 8.8 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South increased 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.11 million in February, and are now 6.0 percent above February 2014. The median price in the South was $177,900, up 8.5 percent from a year ago. Existing-home sales in the West climbed 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.11 million in February, and are now 2.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $290,100, which is 4.2 percent above February 2014.