Total existing-home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.60 million in February 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors.
February was down 0.4% from 4.62 million in January 2014 and down 7.1% from 4.95 million units in February 2013. The pace of sales in February 2014 was the lowest since July 2012, when the pace was at 4.59 million.
Total existing-home sales are completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, noted that February conditions were little changed from January.
“We had ongoing unusual weather disruptions across much of the country last month, with the continuing frictions of constrained inventory, restrictive mortgage lending standards and housing affordability less favorable than a year ago,” Yun said. “Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead. With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year.”
The February median existing home price was $189,000, up 9.1% from February 2013.
Yun noted that housing price gains have equated to an additional $4 trillion of housing wealth recovery in the past three years.
Total housing inventory in February was up 6.4%, to 2.00 million existing homes available for sale. That is a 5.2-month supply at the current pace of sales. The supply was 4.9 months in January 2014 and was 4.6 months in February 2013.
The median time on market for all homes: 62 days in February 2014, from 67 days in January 2014 and from 74 days in February 2013.
The share of first-time buyers was 28% of February purchases, up from January's 26% and down from 30% more in February 2013.
Student loans may be a factor in the lower rate of first-time buyer home purchases.
"The biggest problems for first-time buyers are tight credit and limited inventory in the lower price ranges,” said NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors in Dayton, OH. "However, 20% of buyers under the age of 33, the prime group of first-time buyers, delayed their purchase because of outstanding debt. In our recent consumer survey, 56% of younger buyers who took longer to save for a downpayment identified student debt as the biggest obstacle.”
Brown said the survey results cover recent homebuyers. “It’s clear there are other people who would like to buy a home that are not in the market because of debt issues, so we can expect a lingering impact of delayed home buying,” Brown said.
Single-family home sales in February 2014 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.04 million, from January's 4.05 million, and was down 6.9% from February 2013's 4.34 million unit level. The median price for existing single-family homes was $189,200, 9.0% higher than in February 2013.
Existing condominium and co-op sales in February 2014 were down 1.8% to an annual rate of 560,000 units, from 570,000 in January and down 8.2% from February 2013. The median existing condo price in February 2014: $187,900, up 9.8% from February 2013.
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