Existing single-family home sales dropped in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.51 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday morning. February's sales pace was 7.2% lower than January's revised rate of 4.86 million, but still 2.0% stronger than the rate of 4.42 million as of February 2015.
Total existing home sales during February shrank to an annual rate of 5.08 million, after reaching 5.47 million in January. The median existing home price for all housing types rose to $210,800 , up 4.4% year-over-year, the 48th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
"Sales took a considerable step back in most of the country last month, and especially in the Northeast and Midwest. The lull in contract signings in January from the large East Coast blizzard, along with the slump in the stock market, may have played a role in February's lack of closings," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.
Prices were buoyed by the continuing shortage of inventory in many markets.
"The overall demand for buying is still solid entering the busy spring season, but home prices and rents outpacing wages and anxiety about the health of the economy are holding back a segment of would-be buyers," Yun added.
Total housing inventory increased 3.3% in February to 1.88 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 1.1% lower than the 1.90 million a year earlier.
As the Spring buying and selling season approaches, the shortage of existing home supply is likely to further drag down affordability and price more people out of the market. Median sales price of existing single-family homes, for example, has increased over 4% Y-o-Y in every region except for the Northeast, which saw a -1.0% decrease.
"With low supply this spring buying season, it's easy for buyers to get discouraged when their offer is rejected in favor of a higher bid,"said Tom Salomone, president of NAR.
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