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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Existing Home Sales During February 2018

The Existing Home Sales report for February 2018 was released by The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) this morning:

Predicted: 5,420,000
Actual: 5,540,000

  •  Change from Previous Month: +3.0%
  •  Change from One Year Previous: +1.1%
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Inventory: 1,590,000 (3.4 months supply)

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The yellow-highlighted, "actual" figure above represents the preliminary, seasonally adjusted annualized sales count of existing homes, co-ops and condominiums for the indicated month. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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Median Price for A Used Home During February: $241,700

Change from One Year Previous: +5.9%

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Average Price for A Used Home During February: $281,200

Change from One Year Previous: +4.3%

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From today's report:

"...Despite consistently low inventory levels and faster price growth, existing-home sales bounced back in February after two straight months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sizeable sales increases in the South and West offset declines in the Northeast and Midwest.

...Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales were uneven across the country in February but did increase nicely overall. 'A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,' he said. '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.'

Added Yun, 'The unseasonably cold weather to start the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month. Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March.'

...According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage moved higher for the fifth straight month to 4.33 percent in February (highest since 4.34 percent in April 2014) from 4.03 percent in January. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 37 days in February, which is down from 41 days in January and 45 days a year ago. Forty-six percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.

'Mortgage rates are at their highest level in nearly four years, at a time when home prices are still climbing at double the pace of wage growth,' said Yun. 'Homes for sale are going under contract a week faster than a year ago, which is quite remarkable given weakening affordability conditions and extremely tight supply. To fully satisfy demand, most markets right now need a substantial increase in new listings.'

...First-time buyers were 29 percent of sales in February, which is unchanged from last month and down from 31 percent a year ago. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 2017 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34 percent.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, says first-time buyers are seeing stiff competition for the available listings in their price range. 'Realtors® in several markets note that entry-level homes for first-timers are hard to come by, which is contributing to their underperforming share of overall sales to start the year.' she said. 'Prospective buyers should start conversations with a Realtor® now on what they want in a new home. Even with the expected uptick in new listings in coming months, buyers in most markets will likely have to act fast on any available listing that checks all their boxes.'

All-cash sales were 24 percent of transactions in February, which is up from 22 percent in January and the highest since last February (27 percent). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in February, which is down from 17 percent in January and unchanged from a year ago.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – were 4 percent of sales in February, down from 5 percent in January and 7 percent a year ago. Three percent of February sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales..."

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  • The monthly Existing Home Sales report is released on or around the 25TH day of each month.

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