Existing-home sales increased 3.0% in February, but the first-time buyer share remained at 29%, compared to 31% a year ago. The National Association of Realtors reported that 46% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month. The February inventory increased 4.6%, but remains 8.1% below the level a year ago, and has decreased for 33 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. At the current sales rate, the February unsold inventory represents a 3.4-month supply, unchanged from last month, and down from a 3.8-month supply a year ago. February existing sales reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.54 million units, compared to 5.38 million in January. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.
Existing sales increased 11.4% in the West and 6.6% in the South, but decreased 2.4% in the Midwest and 12.3% in the Northeast. Year-over-year sales increased 3.4% in the South and 2.4% in the West, but decreased 7.2% in the Northeast. Midwest sales were unchanged from a year ago.
Homes stayed on the market for 37 days in February, down from 41 days In January.
The February all-cash sales share was 24%, up from 22% in January. Individual investors purchased a 15% share in February, down from a 17% share in January.
The February median sales price of $241,700 was up 5.9% from a year ago, representing the 72nd consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The February median condominium/co-op price of $227,300 was up 5.7%% from a year ago.
Mortgage rates are on the rise, and a majority of prospective home buyers do not expect availability to improve in 2018. With the economy continuing to add jobs, these prospective buyers are more likely to look at new residential construction. These continuing trends contribute to builder confidence remaining on solid footing.