Existing-Home Sales Vaulted 9.5% in February, Largest

Existing-Home Sales Vaulted 9.5% in February, Largest

Washington, D.C., March 21, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

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 February 2023. Sales declined 3.3% from the previous year.
  • The median existing-home sales price elevated 5.7% from February 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.

             Existing-home sales climbed in February, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Among the four major U.S. regions, sales jumped in the West, South and Midwest, and were unchanged in the Northeast. Year-over-year, sales declined in all regions.
Total existing-home sales[1] – completed transactions that include 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[2] 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[3] 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[4] – 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[5] – foreclosures and short sales – represented 3% of sales in February, virtually unchanged from last month and the previous year.
Mortgage Rates
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).
Regional Breakdown
At 480,000 units, existing-home sales in the Northeast were identical to January but down 7.7% from February 2023. It’s the fourth consecutive month that home sales in the Northeast registered 480,000 units. The median price in the Northeast was $420,600, up 11.5% from one year ago.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales propelled 8.4% from one month ago to an annual rate of 1.03 million in February, down 3.7% from the previous year. The median price in the Midwest was $277,600, up 6.8% from February 2023.
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.
In the West, existing-home sales skyrocketed 16.4% from a month ago to an annual rate of 850,000 in February, a decline of 1.2% from the prior year. The median price in the West was $593,000, up 9.1% from February 2023.
“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.”
About NAR
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. The term Realtor® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

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For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services (MLS). Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.
NOTE: NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for February is scheduled for release on March 28, and Existing-Home Sales for March will be released on April 18. Release times are 10 a.m. Eastern.

Information about NAR is available at nar.realtor. This and other news releases are posted in the newsroom at nar.realtor/newsroom. Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the “Research and Statistics” tab.


[1] Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR benchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.
Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
              The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
              Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

[2] Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90% of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

[3] The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.
The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

[4] Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s REALTORS® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. The annual study only represents primary residence purchases, and does not include investor and vacation home buyers. Results include both new and existing homes.

[5] Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s REALTORS® Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.


            

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