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Newsfeed: Existing home sales jump in February as mortgage rates fall

Existing home sales in February jumped 14.5% to an annualized rate of 4.58 million, the largest monthly percentage increase since July 2020 and ending a 12-month slide, data from the National Association of Realtors out Tuesday showed.

The annualized rate of existing homes sold topped the 4.2 million expected by economists, according to Bloomberg data. The median sales price for an existing home slid 0.2% to $363,000, compared to a year ago, NAR data showed.

“Conscious of changing mortgage rates, home buyers are taking advantage of any rate declines,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in the press release. “Moreover, we’re seeing stronger sales gains in areas where home prices are decreasing and the local economies are adding jobs.”

Total inventory for housing at the end of February stood at 980,000 units, similar to January levels and up 15.3% from a year ago, the NAR reported. About 57% of homes sold in February were sitting on the market for less than a month. Inventory sat on the market for 34 days in February, up from 33 days in January.

“Inventory levels are still at historic lows,” Yun added. “Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties.”

Under the current backdrop after the closures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank spread across the banking sector, the average long-term rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped off to 6.6% last week, down from 6.73% the week prior, according to Freddie Mac. A year ago, the rate was 4.16%.

Regionally, sales rose in the Northeast 4% from January’s figure to an annualized rate of 520,000 in February, down 25.7% from February 2022. The median price in the Northeast was $366,100, down 4.5% from the previous year.

A sign announces a home for sale on Munjoy Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Portland, Maine. Over the past year, the Fed has raised its key short-term rate eight times, causing many kinds of consumer and business loans, including mortgages, to become more expensive.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A sign announces a home for sale on Munjoy Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

In the Midwest, home sales grew 13.5% from the previous month to an annual rate of 1.09 million in February, declining 18.7% from one year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $261,200, up 5.0% from February 2022.

Sales of existing homes in the South rebounded 15.9% in February from January to an annual rate of 2.11 million, a 21.3% decrease from the prior year. The median price in the South was $342,000, an increase of 2.7% from a year ago.

And for the West, existing-home sales climbed 19.4% in February from the prior month to an annual rate of 860,000, down 28.3% from the previous year. The median price in the West was $541,100, down 5.6% from February 2022.

Meanwhile, foreclosures and short sales made up 2% of sales in February, similar to last month and a year ago.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @daniromerotv

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