Persistently tight inventories—not a good sign as the spring season nears—coupled with an uptick in sales pushed prices up 7.5 percent in February
The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in February was $202,600. This marks the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains and the largest since last February (8.8 percent), according to the National Association of Realtors.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in February from 4.82 million in January. Sales are 4.7 percent higher than a year ago and above year-over-year totals for the fifth consecutive month.
Total housing inventory at the end of February increased from January by 1.6 percent to 1.89 million existing homes available for sale, but remains 0.5 percent below a year ago (1.90 million). For the second straight month, unsold inventory is at a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace.
Concerns are growing about the low inventory levels have persisted through the winter months. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, “Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels,” he said. “Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before rates rise.”
“With all indications pointing to a rate increase from the Federal Reserve this year – perhaps as early as this summer – affordability concerns could heighten as home prices and rents both continue to exceed wages,” adds Yun.
A NAR study released earlier this month found that the disparity between rent and income growth is widening in metro areas throughout the country and is making it harder for renters to become homeowners.