After starting the year at the fastest pace in almost a decade, existing-home sales eased up in February as those looking for affordability got stymied by high prices and tighter supplies, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Nonetheless, home resales remained above year ago levels both nationally and in all major regions, Realtors said.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, retreated 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in February, from 5.69 million in January. Despite the monthly decline, February’s sales pace is still 5.4 percent above a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said too few properties for sale and weakening affordability stifled buyers.
“Realtors are reporting stronger foot traffic from a year ago, but low supply in the affordable price range continues to be the pest that’s pushing up price growth and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers,” Yun said. “Newly listed properties are being snatched up quickly so far this year and leaving behind minimal choices for buyers trying to reach the market.”
Until an increase in listings actually occurs, home prices will “continue to move hastily,” he added.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $228,400, up 7.7 percent from February 2016 ($212,100). February’s price increase was the fastest since last January (8.1 percent) and marks the 60th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of February increased 4.2 percent to 1.75 million existing homes available for sale. But that’s still 6.4 percent lower than a year ago (1.87 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 21 straight months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.8-month supply at the current sales pace (3.5 months in January).