Existing home sales rise, especially in South and West

March 22, 2018 - 2 min read

A welcome change

After two months of consecutive drops, it seems existing home sales are finally on the rebound. According to new data from the National Association of Realtors, sales on existing homes jumped 3 percent last month and more than 1 percent over the year.

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More than 5.5 million existing homes sold in February

According to the National Association of Realtors, a total of 5.54 million existing homes were sold in February – up from 5.38 million in January. This marks an 11 percent increase over 2017.

According to Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist, the biggest jumps in existing home sales were seen in the West and South.

“In spite of continued affordability challenges out West, buyers found a way to persevere, as sales increased 11.4 percent last month and 2.4 percent last year in that region,” Hale said. “This surge, coupled with strong sales in the South, helped drive nationwide sales up 3.0 percent from last month and 1.1 percent from last year. “

Are home prices finally dropping? They just might be

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said a booming economy also had something to do with the increase in sales.

“A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” Yun said. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018.”

More housing inventory on the way; construction, builder confidence up for February 

If construction can continue its upward trend – as it has in the South and West – Hale said it could spell good news for homebuyers.

“February’s data is a sign that the housing market could be healthier if kinks in the flow of new construction enabled builders to better meet demand,” Hale said. “Housing starts and permits have trended much higher in the West and South from a year ago, and new construction helped fuel home sales growth in those regions.”

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Where homes sold the most

When it comes to existing home sales, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro in California was the hottest market for February. Nearby Vallejo-Fairfield, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade also made the top five. Midland, Texas was the hottest market in the south.

At the regional level, the West saw existing sales increase 11.4 percent and the South 6.6 percent. The Northeast and Midwest both saw sales drop, decreasing 12.3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Prices on existing homes last month were lowest in the Midwest, at $179,400. The median price of existing homes in the South was $215K, while those in the Northeast and West were $258K and $370K, respectively.

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Aly J. Yale
Authored By: Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Aly J. Yale is a mortgage and real estate writer based in Houston who has contributed to Forbes and worked for organizations such as The Dallas Morning News, PBS, NBC, and Radio Disney.