After two relatively slow months, sales of existing homes picked up across the country, increasing 3 percent in February compared to January and 1.1 percent over last February, according to the latest monthly report from the National Association of Realtors today.
The picture was different locally. February existing home sales in NoPho rose slightly from January but were down 30 percent from last February, according to the latest monthly analysis of NoPho home sales by North Phoenix News and In&Out Magazine, released earlier this month.
There were regional differences in the national figures, too.
“A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices – especially in the West – shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $241,700, up 5.9 percent from February 2017. February’s price increase marks the 72nd straight month of year-over-year gains, the NAR reported.
Home sales had been sluggish in part because of low inventory.
Nationwide inventory rose in February by 4.6 percent to 1.59 million existing homes available for sale—still 8.1 percent lower than a year ago. Inventory has fallen year-over-year for 33 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace (3.8 months a year ago). Anything less than 6 months is considered a seller’s market.