Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. rose in February as house prices dipped and mortgage rates continued to tick down.
Existing home sales jumped 14.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. This was the first increase following 12 consecutive monthly declines in sales, ending the longest stretch of falling sales since 1999. It was the largest monthly increase since July 2020.
Economists had predicted a rise to 4.17 million units from January’s four million.
The average rate on a standard 30-year fixed mortgage was 6.26 percent in February, down one-tenth of a point from January. Mortgage rates peaked in October of 2022 and were in decline 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 year ago level. This was the first time home prices fell nationally from the year prior since February 2012, according to historic data. The median single-family home price was 0.7 percent below last year’s level. The median price of condos and co-ops was up 2.5 percent.
Last week, the Census Bureau reported that privately owned housing starts in February came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,450,000, 9.8 percent above the revised January estimate of 1,321,000. That also was well above expectations. In March, the monthly survey of homebuilder sentiment from the National Association of Home Builders showed improved sentiment for the third month in a row.
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