Existing-home sales broke a 12-month streak of declines in February, surging 14.5% compared to January and posting the largest monthly increase since July 2020, the National Association of REALTORS® said.
The annual rate of 4.58 million sales was above analyst expectations but down 22.6% from the February 2022 rate of 5.92 million. Sales were up in all four major U.S. regions on a monthly basis but down on an annual one.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February slid 0.2% year over year to $363,000, breaking a 131-month streak of year-over-year increases, the longest on record.
“We continue to expect large year-over-year declines in home sales for the first half of this year,” Keller Williams Chief Economist Ruben Gonzalez said. “We also expect to see year-over-year declines in home prices for the next several months. The recent bank failures are likely to weigh on home sales in coming months despite the recent decline in mortgage rates.”
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.60% as of March 16, down from 6.73% a week before but up from 4.16% a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.
“Conscious of changing mortgage rates, home buyers are taking advantage of any rate declines,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a press release. “Moreover, we’re seeing stronger sales gains in areas where home prices are decreasing and the local economies are adding jobs. Inventory levels are still at historic lows. Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties.”
Total housing inventory at the end of February was 980,000 units, flat with January and up 15.3% on a year-over-year basis. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory represented a 2.6-month supply, down 10.3% from January but up from 1.7 months in February 2022.
Properties typically remained on the market for 34 days in February, up from 33 days in January and 18 in February 2022. Fifty-seven percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.
By property type, single-family home sales in February jumped 15.3% month over month to 4.14 million. The median existing single-family home price was $367,500, down 0.7% on a year-over-year basis.
Existing condominium and co-op sales also increased, coming in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000 units in February, up from 410,000 in January. The median existing condo price rose 2.5% year over year to $321,000.