Existing-home sales data released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) declined slightly compared with the previous month but showed gains compared with a year ago.
February existing-home sales came in at a rate of 4.59 million, down 0.9% from 4.63 million in January. Compared with a year ago, completed transactions are 8.8% higher than February 2011.
Sales were up in the Midwest and South, offset by declines in the Northeast and West.
“The market is trending up unevenly, with record high consumer buying power and sustained job gains giving buyers the confidence they need to get into the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Although relatively unusual, there will be rising demand for both rental space and homeownership this year. The great suppression in household formation during the past four years was unsustainable, and a pent-up demand could burst forth from the improving economy.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $156,600 in February, up 0.3% from February 2011. Distressed homes -- foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts -- accounted for 34% of February sales (20% were foreclosures and 14% were short sales), down from 35% in January and 39% in February 2011.