Single-family home sales grew to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.97 million

Existing-home sales climbed in February in the south, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Among the other four major U.S. regions, sales jumped in the West and Midwest, and were unchanged in the Northeast. Year-over-year, sales declined in all regions.

Total existing-home sales (completed transactions including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops) bounced 9.5% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million in February.

Year-over-year, sales slid 3.3% (down from 4.53 million in February 2023).

“Additional housing supply is helping to satisfy market demand,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “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.”

Total housing inventory registered at the end of February was 1.07 million units, up 5.9% from January and 10.3% from one year ago (970,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.0 months in January but up from 2.6 months in February 2023.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $384,500, an increase of 5.7% from the prior year ($363,600). All four U.S. regions posted price increases.

REALTORS Confidence Index

According to the monthly REALTORS® Confidence Index, properties typically remained on the market for 38 days in February, up from 36 days in January and 34 days in February 2023.

First-time buyers were responsible for 26% of sales in February, down from 28% in January and 27% in February 2023. NAR’s 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers  released in November 2023[iv]– found that the annual share of first-time buyers was 32%.

All-cash sales accounted for 33% of transactions in February, up from 32% in January and 28% one year ago. Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 21% of homes in February, up from 17% in January and 18% in February 2023. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) represented 3% of sales in February, virtually unchanged from last month and the previous year.

According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.74% as of March 14. That’s down from 6.88% the prior week but up from 6.60% one year ago.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales grew to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.97 million in February, up 10.3% from 3.6 million in January but down 2.7% from the previous year. The median existing single-family home price was $388,700 in February, up 5.6% from February 2023.

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 410,000 units in February, existing condominium and co-op sales increased 2.5% from last month but declined 8.9% from one year ago (450,000 units).

The median existing condo price was $344,000 in February, up 6.7% from the previous year ($322,400).

Existing-home sales in the South leapt 9.8% from January to an annual rate of 2.02 million in February, down 2.9% from one year earlier. The median price in the South was $354,200, up 4.1% from last year.

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

Key Highlights

  • Existing-home sales surged 9.5% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million, the largest monthly increase since Feb. 2023. Sales declined 3.3% from the previous year.
  • The median existing-home sales price elevated 5.7% from Feb. 2023 to $384,500 – the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.
  • The inventory of unsold existing homes increased 5.9% from one month ago to 1.07 million at the end of February, or the equivalent of 2.9 months’ supply at the current monthly sales pace.

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