Home Sales Pace
Sales of existing U.S. homes perked up in February, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. The number of sales grew to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.72 million units, up from 4.49 million in January. The current pace is still down however; over February 2008, figures when sales reached a seasonally adjusted 5.03 million units.
The national median home price actually increased in February for the first time in seven months. The price rose to $165,400 from $164,800 in January, led by strong gains in the Northeast. One year ago, the national median price was higher at $195,600.
The NAR defines existing homes as all previously owned single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and co-ops. The group "seasonally adjusts" the sales numbers to factor in things like inclement weather, school sessions, winter holidays, etc to smooth out the trends. The NAR also describes its sales data based on an annual pace. The monthly figure represents the total number of housing units sold in one year if the current rate were to continue unchanged.
Sales Pace by Region
Home sales were up across the board in February for an average 5.1 percent nationwide, with the Northeast leading the way. Sales there increased by 15.6 percent to 740,000 units, up from 640,000 the previous month. From the February 2008 sales, however, the numbers are still down 14.9 percent.
The South also showed a significant increase in sales, with numbers growing to 1.74 million units, up 6.1 percent from 1.64 million in January. In year-over-year comparisons, sales in the South are still down 11.2 percent though.
The West had a slower monthly growth rate, with sales rising 2.6 percent to 1.2 million from 1.17 million the previous month. Compared with last year, however, sales are up an incredible 30.4 percent!
The Midwest saw a slight increase in sales in February, with a 1.0 percent up-tick to 1.04 million homes, from 1.03 million in January. Sales in that region are still down 14.0 percent over February 2008 figures.
The median home price, the point at which half of all homes sold for more and half sold for less, rose in February in the Northeast and South, stayed constant in the Midwest, and fell in the West.
The median price in the Northeast jumped up to $251,200 from 227,000 in January, but it is down 4.8 percent from a year ago when the price was $264,000.
The South experienced a median price growth to 146,700 from 143,300, although the price is down 10.0 percent over the previous year.
In the Midwest, the median price remained $131,000 for the second month, but it is still down 4.8 percent from February 2008.
The median price took a deep plunge in the West in February, falling to $204,600 from $215,500 the month before. The current price is down 30.3 percent over last year, a sign of how over-inflated Western home prices grew during the housing boom.
The number of existing homes for sale in the U.S. rose 5.2 percent to 3.8 million units from 3.6 million in January. However, at the current higher sales pace, the homes on the market represent a 9.7-month supply, the same amount as the previous month. Total housing inventory has still fallen 5.5 percent in the last year.
Data for March existing home sales, prices, and inventory will be available at the end of April.