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Existing Home Sales And Prices Rise In February

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WASHINGTON (3/22/13)--February U.S. existing-home sales and prices indicate a healthy recovery is underway in the housing sector, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). February sales were at the highest level since the tax credit period of November 2009.

Sales have been above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months, while prices show 12 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases.

Total existing home sales--completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops--increased 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million in February from an upwardly revised 4.94 million in January. They are 10.2% above the 4.52 million-unit level seen in February 2012.  

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said conditions for continued housing improvement are at play. "Job growth in the improving economy and pent-up demand are causing both home sales and rental leasing to rise," he said. "Though home prices are rising much faster than rents, historically low mortgage rates are still making home purchases affordable. The only headwinds are limited housing inventory, which varies greatly around the country, and credit conditions that remain too restrictive."

For the NAR Report, use the link.

In a related matter, U.S. house prices rose 0.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis from December to January, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) monthly House Price Index. The previously reported 0.6% increase in December was revised downward to a 0.5% gain. For the 12 months ending in January, U.S. prices rose 6.5%.

The U.S. index is 14.4% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the September 2004 index level. National home prices have not declined on a monthly basis since January 2012.

For the FHFA report, use the link.