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Existing Home Sales up 1.2% in February!

Existing-home sales crept up 1.2% last month despite harsh winter storms, but they remain weaker than last year’s average, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

Sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million, a bit better than January’s 4.82 million. Last year’s monthly rate averaged 4.92 million, which was down from 2013′s 5.07 million.

The consensus forecast was 4.92 million ahead of Monday’s report, according to Action Economics’ survey of economists.

Severe winter weather in February, which also hampered home building, appears to have held back some buyers, too. Sales in the Northeast fell 6.5% from January while sales in the Midwest were unchanged.

The National Association of Realtors’ existing home sales report counts completed sales of single-family homes, townhouses, co-ops and condominiums.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $202,600, which is 7.5% above February 2014, NAR said.

Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, said the market has shown signs of stagnation recently.

Existing home sales crept up 1.2% in February but remain weaker than the 2014 average according to a National Association of Realtors report Monday. USA TODAY

“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.”

The supply of homes for sale last month held steady at 4.6 months, the same as in January. A six-month supply is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers. Total housing inventory increased 1.6%, but is half a point below a year ago.

As the door opens on real estate’s peak spring buying season, interest rates remain near all-time lows. The average U.S. fixed rate on a 30-year mortgage has mostly hovered below 4% since October and was 3.78% last week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. But recent reports say lenders are restricting credit to potential borrowers with less than superior credit.


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