Despite Blustery Weather and Rising Prices, Existing Home Sales Up in February

Although rising home prices in many parts of the country are padding sellers’ equity, those prices, driven by relatively low inventory, are hampering buyers.

Still, existing home sales were up in February 2015.

Total existing home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.2% in February 2015 from January, were 4.7% higher than a year ago, and were above year-over-year totals for the fifth consecutive month.

In addition to low housing supply, February’s blustery weather affected sales in some parts of the country. “Severe below-freezing winter weather likely had an impact on sales as more moderate activity was observed in the Northeast and Midwest compared to other regions of the country,” said Lawrence Yun, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® chief economist.

Looking ahead, affordability issues could intensify if the Federal Reserve increases interest rates this year, Yun said.

A Closer Look at Home Prices and Inventory

The median existing home price for all housing types in February was $202,600 — 7.5% above February 2014 and the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Housing inventory increased 1.6% to 1.89 million existing homes available for sale, but remained 0.5% below a year ago (1.90 million).  Properties stayed on the market for 62 days in February, down from 69 days in January, and unchanged from a year ago. Thirty-four percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.

Other Market Activity

  • First-time buyers: 29% of all buyers in February, up from 28% in January 2015 and a year ago.
  • Distressed sales, such as foreclosures and short sales: 11% percent of sales in February, unchanged for the third consecutive month, and down from 16% a year ago.
  • All-cash sales: 26% of transactions in February, down from 27% in January, and down considerably from a year ago (35%). Sixty-seven percent of investors paid cash in February.

February 2015 Regional Existing Home Sales

  Sales Volume Compared with Feb. 2014 Median Home Price Median Price Compared with Feb. 2014
Northeast Up 3.6% $241,800 Up 3.3%
Midwest Up 4.9% $152,900 Up 8.8%
South Up 6.0% $177,900 Up 8.5%
West Up 2.8% $290,100 Up 4.2%