Sales of previously owned homes hit an adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million in February, which was down 23.8 percent compared to the same month last year but was up slightly from January 2008, ending a six-month slide, the National Association of Realtors reported today.

The median price of resale homes fell 8.2 percent in February compared to February 2007, while the average price was down 7 percent, the trade group reported. The seasonally adjusted annual rate represents a projection of a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

There was an estimated 9.6-month supply of resale homes for sale in February, up 39.1 percent compared to the same month last year but down 3 percent compared to January 2008, the Realtor group reported — this means it would take an estimated 9.6 months to exhaust the supply of for-sale resale homes at the February sales rate.

For-sale home inventory was 4.03 million in February, compared with 4.16 million in January 2008 and 3.81 million in February 2007.

In a separate report, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last month that the for-sale inventory of new single-family homes hit its highest level in 27 years in January, with sales of new single-family homes falling to the lowest adjusted annual rate in about 13 years. The median price of new single-family homes was down 15.1 percent year-over-year in January. New-home sales data for February is scheduled for release on Wednesday.

The median U.S. resale home price was $195,900 in February, compared with $199,700 in January and $213,500 in February 2007. The median and average U.S. resale home price has fallen for three consecutive months. The average U.S. resale home price was $241,900 in February, compared with $245,500 in January 2008 and $260,000 in February 2007.

Regionally, the median price dropped 13.4 percent in the West, 8.6 percent in the South and 7.1 percent in the Midwest while rising 0.4 percent in the Northeast. And the average resale price dropped 9.3 percent in the West, 9.2 percent in the South, 6.2 percent in the Midwest and 0.1 percent in the Northeast in February compared to the same month last year.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement, "We’re not expecting a notable gain in existing-home sales until the second half of this year."

Sales of single-family resale homes dropped 22.9 percent in February compared to the same month last year, with resale condo and co-op sales falling 29.7 percent. The months’ supply of resale single-family homes rose 39.4 percent in February compared to February 2007 and the months’ supply of resale condos and co-ops was up 39.8 percent.

The median price of single-family resale homes dropped 8.7 percent in February compared to the same month last year, while the median price of resale condos and co-ops fell 4.9 percent.

NAR announced that resale home sales data for March will be released April 22, and the group’s next Pending Home Sales Index report is scheduled for April 8.


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