Existing Home Sales Fall in February

Homebuying activity faded in February.

Existing home sales declined 7.2% to a seasonally adjusted 6.02 million units in February from a month earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The number of sales was down 2.4% from the same month a year ago. January home sales figures were revised slightly down to 6.49 million from 6.5 million.

“The latest decline is of larger magnitude than normal,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, noting that anything above 5% is considered a big swing.

Sales in all four regions of the U.S. fell, with the Northeast and Midwest leading the declines by recording a 11.5% and 11.3% drop, respectively. Sales fell 5.1% in the South and 4.7% in the West.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in February rose 15% to $357,300, up 15.0% from February 2021, as prices grew in each region. This marks 120 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.

“After 10 consecutive years of home price increases, the current U.S. median home sales price is more than double the $155,600 median in February 2012 when home prices began their current streak,” said Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale in a press statement.

“Housing affordability continues to be a major challenge, as buyers are getting a double whammy: rising mortgage rates and sustained price increases,” said Yun. “Some who had previously qualified at a 3% mortgage rate are no longer able to buy at the 4% rate.”