Declining affordability and disruptively cold weather stymied sales of existing homes in February, but the number of homes for sale climbed heading into the spring buying season, the National Association of Realtors reported.

“Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. “With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year.”

Existing-home sales edged down 0.4 percent from January to February, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.6 million, a 7.1 percent decline from the same time a year ago, NAR said.

Besides unusually cold weather and strict lending standards, housing observers say that substantial increases in both home prices and mortgages rates — which RealtyTrac said pushed up the cost of financed homeownership by nearly a quarter over the last year — have recently locked more would-be buyers out of the market.

NAR reported today that the median existing-home price increased 9.1 percent year over year to $189,000 in February, and Fannie Mae said rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.32 percent, up from 3.54 percent a year ago.

Scarce housing supply has also curtailed home sales, according to many experts. But the inventory shortage has eased recently.

Housing inventory rose 6.4 percent from January to 2 million homes, a 5.3 percent increase from a year ago, NAR said. February’s inventory represented a supply of homes that would last 5.2 months at the current sales rate, up from 4.9 months in January and 4.6 months a year ago.

Realtor.com recently reported that the number of homes for sale jumped 10 percent in February from a year ago. The increase in supply, taken in hand with still-appreciating home prices, prompted Steve Berkowitz, CEO of realtor.com operator Move Inc, to declare, “This is the market these sellers have been waiting for.”

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
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
×
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