Sales of existing homes slipped slightly from January to February, but were up 8.8 percent from the same time a year ago, the National Association of Realtors reports.

The 0.9 percent January-to-February decline in existing-home sales was a surprise to some analysts, and NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun acknowledged that the market "is trending up unevenly."

Sales of existing homes slipped slightly from January to February, but were up 8.8 percent from the same time a year ago, the National Association of Realtors reports.

The 0.9 percent January-to-February decline in existing-home sales was a surprise to some analysts, and NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun acknowledged that the market "is trending up unevenly."

NAR said a survey of its members showed that 31 percent of Realtors experienced contract failures in February, often because buyers saw their mortgage applications turned down, or because appraisals came in below the negotiated price. That compares with 33 percent reporting contract failures in January, and 9 percent in February 2011.

"Many buyers are staying in the market after experiencing a contract failure and making an offer on another property, showing their determination to take advantage of the favorable conditions, but the cancellations are contributing to an uneven sales pattern," Yun said.

The number of homes for sale at the end of February rose 4.3 percent from January, to 2.43 million, a 6.4-month supply at the current sales pace of 4.59 million homes per year, NAR said.

That’s up from a six-month supply in January, a number that many analysts view as an even balance between buyer demand and available inventory.

In another report, real estate data and analytics provider CoreLogic said there were 1.6 million additional units of "shadow inventory" in January — distressed properties not currently listed for sale on a multiple listings service (MLS) — down from 1.8 million homes a year ago.

NAR said sales of distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts — accounted for 34 percent of February sales, down from 35 percent in January and 39 percent in February 2011. In February, 1 in 5 existing homes sold had been foreclosed on and repossessed by lenders, and 14 percent were short sales.

All-cash purchases, typically by investors, accounted for 33 percent of existing-home sales in February, up from 31 percent the month before.

First-time homebuyers accounted for 32 percent of transactions in February, down from 33 percent in January and 34 percent in February 2011.

At $156,600, the national median existing-home price for all housing types — including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — was up 0.3 percent from a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 3.3 percent from January, to an annual level of 580,000 in February, but are 5.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $225,800, down 1.9 percent from February 2011.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1 percent in February to a pace of 1.02 million and are 13.3 percent higher than February 2011. The median price in the Midwest was $120,500, which is 0.5 percent below a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 0.6 percent to an annual level of 1.77 million in February and are 9.3 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $138,100, up 1.8 percent from February 2011.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 3.2 percent to an annual pace of 1.22 million in February but are 6.1 percent above February 2011. The median price in the West was $195,300, up 3.1 percent from a year ago.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Inman Connect starts tomorrow! Get your ticket for $99 before prices go up tonight.GET YOUR TICKET×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription