Sales of U.S. existing homes slipped in February to their lowest level since July 2012, the sixth decline in seven months as severe winter weather, rising prices and a tight supply of homes discouraged buyers.
Contract closings on existing properties fell 0.4 percent to a 4.6 million annual rate, matching the median projection in a Bloomberg survey, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. Prices rose 9.1 percent from a year earlier, the group said. The trade group also said two million homes were available for sale last month, which represents a supply of about 5.2 months. It estimates a supply of 6 to 6½ months represents a rough balance between buyers and sellers.
“Affordability is continuing to weaken,” said Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, though he added sales activity should pick up after winter ends. “Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead,” Mr. Yun said.
The slowdown in sales since the middle of last year reflects a pickup in borrowing costs, declining affordability and, more recently, bad weather. Faster job growth that generates bigger income gains are needed to spur demand and allow housing to contribute more to the economy.
Read more at: