WASHINGTON (3/24/15)--After January's slump, existing-home sales picked back up in February, climbing 1.2% for the month and 4.7% on a year-over-year basis, according to numbers released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Monday (Economy.com March 23).
Single-family home sales drove the gains, which were below analyst forecasts, while condo and co-op sales were unchanged.
"The U.S. housing market is still subdued, showing few signs of acceleration despite February's uptick in sales," said Andres Carbacho-Burgos, Moody's analyst (Economy.com). "Total sales volume for existing homes has been flat for over a year now as investor and second-home purchases have dried out" and not been replaced by first-time homebuyers.
By region, single-family home sales fell in the Northeast by 5.8%, remained flat in the Midwest, climbed in the South by 1.1% and rose in the West by 7.7%.
Further, sales accelerated on a year-over-year basis in all regions, with the South leading the way at 7.5%. The West posted the weakest annual sales growth at 3.2%.
Median home prices continued to climb as well, with single-family homes experiencing the highest rate of acceleration.
The median sales price for single-family homes was $204,200 in February, an 8.2% increase on an annual basis.
"Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before rates rise."