(Digital News Report) There has been some good economic news released this week by the U.S. Commerce Department and the National Association of Realtors (NAR). On Monday the NAR reported that existing homes sales actually rose in February after declining for 7 straight months.
Most economists expected a continuation of the declining trend. Lower home prices have helped spur the mini-sales boom. Chief economist for the NAR, Lawrence Yun, said that sales were up 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in February. This is compared to January when 4.49 million units were sold.
Existing homes include single-family units, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. Yun says that first time buyers made up half of the sales. Many of the homes were bank owned.
Distressed property made up about 40 to 45 percent of the transactions in February. Distressed properties are sold for 20 percent of less compared to their market value.
The bad news is that sales are still 4.6 percent below the 4.95 million-units sold in February 2008. The median price back in February 2008 was $195,800. Today the median price is $165,400
There is also good news for “new” home sales. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, new home sales jumped 4.7 percent in February. Here again, this figure is down 41 percent compared to a year ago. But the volume was higher on a seasonally adjusted rate compared to January.
Certain areas of the country improved more than others. The northeast and the Midwest saw declines while the south and the west say improvement. Even with this boost in sales, there is still a 12.2 month inventory on the market.
By Dan Wilson