US Home Sales See Small Increase

  • 16 years ago
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4/04/08-The most recent housing reports out the United States indicate that existing home sales were up in February, the first time that sales rose seven months. Most analysts note that this is probably an anomaly, brought on in large part by significantly lower home prices, but they expect sales to begin increasing later this year on a consistent basis. The median national home price for February was $195,500, which was 8.2% lower than a year ago, when prices were $213,500.
According the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales, which includes single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 2.9% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million units, from a pace of 4.89 million in January. While a slight improvement, that pace still remains 23.8% below the 6.60 million-unit level in February 2007. 
Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, said the gain, while small, is encouraging. “We’re not expecting a notable gain in existing-home sales until the second half of this year, but the improvement is another sign that the market is stabilizing,” he said.  “Buyers taking advantage of higher loan limits for both FHA and conventional mortgages will unleash some pent-up demand.  As inventories are drawn down, prices in many markets should go positive later this year.”
The increase in existing home sales for February was driven in large part by sales in the Northeast United States. Sales in this region jumped 11.3%, and the median home price was $264,800. Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 2.5% in February with a median price of $143,900, which is 7.1% lower than February 2007.
In the South, existing-home sales increased 2.1 % and had a median price of $163,400, down 8.6% from a year ago.  Existing-home sales in the West slipped 1.1%, down a whopping 29.2% from a year ago.  The median price in the West was $290,400, down 13.4% from February 2007.
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