Existing home sales rise as prices fall for the first time in more than a decade

US used home sales rose in February as house prices fell and mortgage rates continued to fall.

Sales of existing homes jumped 14.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. It was the first increase after 12 consecutive monthly declines in sales, ending the longest period of declining sales since 1999. It was the largest monthly increase since July 2020.

Economists had predicted an increase to 4.17 million units from four million in January.

The average rate for a standard 30-year fixed mortgage was 6.26% in February, down a tenth of a point from January. Mortgage rates peaked in October 2022 and fell until February when they started to climb again.

The median price of an existing home sold in January was $363,000, two-tenths of a percent below the level a year earlier. It was the first time home prices fell nationwide from a year earlier since February 2012, historical data showed. The median price for single-family homes was 0.7% lower than last year’s level. The median price of condos and co-ops increased by 2.5%.

Last week, the Census Bureau reported private housing starts in February hit a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1,450,000, 9.8% above January’s revised estimate of 1,321. 000. It was also well above expectations. In March, the National Association of Home Builders’ monthly homebuilder sentiment survey showed improved sentiment for the third month in a row.


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