February existing-home sales snap a 12-month slide, rise 14.5% from December
Two well-established housing market streaks were broken in February, as homebuyers and sellers reacted to changing market dynamics. First, existing-home sales went up for the first time in a year, ending a 12-month string of month-over-month declines. Second, median existing-home price was lower than it was in February of 2022, snapping a historic streak of 131 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.
All four major regions across the U.S. saw existing-home sales rocket up, according to National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Total existing-home sales were up nationwide an encouraging 14.5% from January, though all four regions registered a decline from the year before.
- Northeast: Up 4.0% to an annual rate of 520,000, down 25.7% from February 2022
- Midwest: Up 13.5% to an annual rate of 1,090,000, down 18.7% from February 2022
- South: Up 15.9% to an annual rate of 2,110,000, down 21.3% from February 2022
- West: Up 19.4% with an annual rate of 860,000, down 28.3% from February 2022
With mortgage rates hovering between 6% and 6.5% for much of February, down from Fall 2022, buyers seemed to take advantage. "Conscious of changing mortgage rates, home buyers are taking advantage of any rate declines," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "Moreover, we're seeing stronger sales gains in areas where home prices are decreasing and the local economies are adding jobs."
Find out how mortgage rates are trending this week.
A good sign heading into the spring season
Over the last few months, we’ve seen month-over-month existing-home sale numbers start to even out after months of declines. It was somewhat surprising to see such a big jump into positive territory in February, however. Year-over-year numbers are still down significantly, however, though at a slower pace than the last few months.
Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate
Keeping an eye on inventory and affordability
Total housing inventory held steady in February at 980,000 units. This is an increase from a year ago of 15.3%. At the current sales pace, this represents a 2.6-month supply of available homes for sale. That’s down 10.3% from January, showing that although the number of homes for sale remains that same, the number of interested buyers is going up.
"Inventory levels are still at historic lows," Yun notes. "Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties."
As mentioned above, the median single-family home price went down from last year for the first time in over 10 years. The median existing-home price in February was $363,000, a decline of just $700 (0.2%) from February 2022, but enough to notch the first decline in home prices in 131 months. Home prices did increase slightly from January, however.
Median existing-home price
In February, houses took longer to sell than they did in January or in February of last year. They were on the market for an average of 34 days. But more than half of the houses that were sold in February were only for sale for less than a month.
February’s existing-home sales numbers suggest that market conditions are shifting. To make sure you’re taking advantage of this, work with an expert loan officer.