Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 20° Cloudy
News >  Business

Home sales across nation best in five years

Buyers called serious and gains sustainable

WASHINGTON – Sales of existing homes fell 0.9 percent in February after an upward revision to the prior month, but improving job prospects, cheaper homes and warm weather led to the best start to the year since the bursting of the housing bubble five years ago.

The National Association of Realtors said sales in February fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million, compared with an upwardly revised 4.63 million in January. January sales initially were recorded at a 4.57 million annual rate.

These were the best January and February levels in five years, the NAR said.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected February sales at a 4.6 million annual rate.

Compared with a year ago, sales were up 8.8 percent.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the trade group, said he expects the gains to be sustainable, noting that unlike last year the pick-up came across the country, noting Pittsburgh; Providence, R.I.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Minneapolis among the areas of strength.

“Our (real-estate agent) members are very enthusiastic,” Yun said. “Buyers are very serious. Last year they were kicking the tires.”

Yun acknowledged that unusually warm weather helped sales this winter but said that wasn’t the only factor.

“Weather may have helped but there’s something more genuine that is lifting January and February sales,” he said.

The median price of an existing home rose 0.3 percent to $156,600 compared with the year-ago period. Median prices typically are less in the winter because fewer families move during the school year, so smaller homes are sold.

While slight, that was the first year-on-year increase in prices since November 2010.

Inventories rose 4.3 percent to 2.43 million, or 6.4 months of supply. Inventories typically rise from February through the summer months.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.