Even with continued inventory shortages and price increases in many metro areas across the U.S., overall existing-home sales for the United States increased in February following two consecutive months of declines, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
Total existing-home sales increased 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in February from 5.38 million in January. After February’s increase, sales are now 1.1 percent above one year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales were uneven across the country in February but increased nicely overall.
“A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” says Yun. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices – especially in the West – shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.”
Yun says severe winter weather is likely responsible for the decline in the prior months.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $241,700, an increase of 5.9 percent over February 2017 ($228,200). February’s price increase marks the 72nd straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 4.6 percent to 1.59 million existing homes available for sale but remains 8.1 percent lower than one year ago.
Single-family home sales increased by 4.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.96 million in February from 4.76 million in January, which translates into 1.8 percent above the 4.87 million level from February 2017. The median existing single-family home price was $243,400 in February, representing an increase of 5.9 percent from February 2017.
Existing condominium sales dropped 6.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 580,000 units in February, and are now 4.9 percent below a year ago. The median existing condo price was $227,300 in February, which is 5.7 percent above a year ago.
Florida’s housing market reported an increased number of closed sales and new listings, as well as higher median prices for February, according to Florida REALTORS®.
“Florida’s economy continues to grow, with more jobs being created – the state’s unemployment rate was 3.9% in January,” said 2018 Florida REALTORS® President Christine Hansen. “A strong economy is good for Florida’s housing market. Statewide sales increased in both the existing single-family homes and the townhouse-condo sectors in February.”
“There is some good news for buyers: In February, new listings for single-family homes rose 6 percent year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings increased 6.9 percent.”
Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 18,620 for February, representing an increase of 3.3 percent compared to February 2017. Meanwhile, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $246,500, an increase of 9.6 percent from 2017, according to data from Florida REALTORS® Research Department in partnership with local REALTOR® boards/associations.
“The latest figures from Florida REALTORS® show sales of existing homes rose modestly in February, while sale prices continued to climb at a very brisk pace,” said Florida REALTORS® Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor.
The Southwest Florida market specifically has seen an increase in pending and closed sales. There have also been increases in median prices, although moderate in comparison to median price increases in many other metro areas across the nation.