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Published: Sun, March 26, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

US home sales slowed in February after surge in January


The National Association of Realtors also reports the median sales price rose nearly eight percent from a year ago, driven up by demand because inventory is low and new listings are being snatched up quickly.

Sales of new homes hit a seven-month high in February.

Yun commented that, "foot traffic is strong, but low supply of affordable homes is pushing up prices and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers".

Despite the resilient demand, buyers have fewer choices. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

The median existing-home price for all housing types increased 7.7% annually to $228,400.

Single-family home prices keep rising in Miami-Dade, increasing by 18.8 percent to $321,000 last month from $270,221 in February 2016.

Total housing inventory rose 4.2% to 1.75mn homes, but there was still a 6.4% decline from year-ago levels. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

"While the number of homes for sale rose slightly, that was a seasonal move and they are down by 6.4% from a year earlier", Nationwide Chief Economist David Berson said.

The supply of homes for sale has fallen on an annual basis for the past 21 months.

Regionally, sales fell in three of four regions.

Chattanooga home prices, on average are still more than 23 percent below the US average.

The median forecast among economists surveyed by MarketWatch was for a 5.45 million pace.

The limited inventory and risks of rising mortgage rates may actually cause the spring home-buying season to begin with a sprint this month. NAR's 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers - released in late 20164 - revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent. That was down 3.7% compared with January's sales pace, which was the strongest in a decade.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage inched up in February to 4.17 percent from 4.15 percent in January. In February, mid-market home sales jumped 10.5 percent. A six-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

"February was a really good month", said Danielle Hale, NAR's director of housing statistics. The median price in February 2008 in the metro area was $184,000.

Existing sales increased 1.3% in the South, but declined by 3.1% in the West, 7.0% in the Midwest and 13.8% in the Northeast.

DuPage County's surge came in the condo market, with prices jumping 25.4 percent to $175,000.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate", is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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