Existing Home Sales in February 2019 Up Sequentially from January by 11.8 Percent, But Were Down 1.8 Percent from a Year Ago on A Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Basis

Existing home sales jumped 11.8 percent from January 2019 to February 2019 on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, the largest one-month gain seen since December 2015.  Sales rose to 5.51 million on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis (SAAR) according to National Association of Realtors® (NAR).  February sales, however,  were off 1.8 percent on a year-over-year comparison.    On an unadjusted basis, housing sales in the first two months of 2019 totaled 597,000, down 5.5 percent from a year ago (see the table below).  Sales (non-adjusted) for the month of February 2019  came in at  312,000 compared to 319,000 one year ago —  a 2.2 percent year-over-year decline.

Median price for February 2019 hit $249,500, up 3.6 percent from a year ago, with an average price of $282,200 (up 2.37percent year-over-year).  Median and average prices set all-time records in June 2018.   Median price has now risen 84 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis.

The following graph shows the trend in housing sales based on a trailing 12-month basis (TTM), but with monthly median prices.  On a trailing 12-month basis, sales continue trailing down despite a relatively strong U.S. economy.

The next shows both the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate for existing home sales and the actual trailing 12-months sales rate.  Each of these metrics have advantages and disadvantages.   Supposedly the SAAR shows the latest trends while the TTM shows performance up to that point in time.

Sales and median prices are shown on a monthly basis in the following two graphs.   Sales, on a year-over-year basis are have lagged the prior six months.  Median price, on the other hand, continued on an upward accent driven by minimal inventory of 3.9 months (seasonally adjusted) with 6.0 months considered normal.  Inventory increased from 3.7 months year ago.  The inventory of available listings tallied 1.63 million versus 1.58 million a year ago.

Other metrics and insights from the February 2019 NAR release included:

  • 41 percent of the sales closed in February were on the market less than one month, with the typical property lasting 44 days from the time of listing to  having a signed purchase contract, compared to 37 days a year ago and 47 days the prior month
  • First-time homebuyers were present in three-out-of-every 10 transactions (32 percent) compared to 29  percent both the month prior and  a year ago
  • All-cash sales made up one-in-four closings (23 percent) in February, down slightly from 24 percent a year ago
  • Investors acquired 16 percent of all home sales in February, up from 15 percent a year ago
  • Distressed sales made up 4 percent of February’s closings unchanged from a year ago.  Foreclosures made up 3 percent and short sales 1 percent
  • Million dollar and up homes made up 2.7 percent of all sales in February 2019, down from 2.9 percent the prior month and up from 2.5 percent z year ago
  • The typical homeowner added $8,700 in home equity in the prior 12 months and $21,300 in the past 24-months – a new metric disclosed by NAR

To read the entire NAR release click https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-surge-11-8-percent-in-february

Market fundamentals point to some locales shifting to Buyer’s Markets given listing price reductions, increased inventory and longer times on the market.   Favoring buyers also this spring are interest rates that are lower today than a year ago.   Sales, however, still lag those of a year ago, but finally showed some improvement this past month.


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