Feb. home sales outpace year-ago rate, NAR reports

Existing-home sales declined in the Northeast in February, but nationwide homes are selling above their pace of a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales also declined in the West, but rose in the Midwest and South, and median prices rose slightly, according to NAR.

Existing-home sales dipped .9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million in February from an upwardly revised 4.63 million in January, NAR stated. The sales are 8.8 percent higher than February 2011, when they were at 4.22 million.

“The market is trending up unevenly, with record high consumer buying power and sustained job gains giving buyers the confidence they need to get into the market,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a release. “Although relatively unusual, there will be rising demand for both rental space and homeownership this year. The great suppression in household formation during the past four years was unsustainable, and a pent-up demand could burst forth from the improving economy.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $156,600 in February, up 0.3 percent from February 2011, NAR stated. Distressed homes accounted for 34 percent of February sales, down from 35 percent in January and 39 percent in February 2011.

“The bottom line is investors and first-time buyers are competing for bargain-priced properties in much of the country, with home prices showing signs of stabilizing in many areas,” NAR President Moe Veissi said in a release.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 3.3 percent to an annual level of 580,000 in February, but are 5.5 percent above a year ago, NAR reported. The median price in the Northeast was $225,800, down 1.9 percent from February 2011. Feb. home sales outpace year-ago rate, NAR reports