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HEALTHY RECOVERY UNDERWAY

February existing-home sales and prices affirm a healthy recovery is underway in the housing sector, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales have been above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months, while prices show 12 consecutive mon

February existing-home sales and prices affirm a healthy recovery is underway in the housing sector, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales have been above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months, while prices show 12 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

Total existing home sales increased 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million in February from an upwardly revised 4.94 million in January, and are 10.2 percent above level seen in February 2012. February sales were at the highest level since the tax credit period of November 2009.

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. 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.”

Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 9.6 percent to 1.94 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.7-month supply 2 at the current sales pace, up from 4.3 months in January, which was the lowest supply since May 2005. Listed inventory is 19.2 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.4-month supply.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in February, up 11.6 percent from February 2012. The last time there were 12 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from June 2005 to May 2006. The February gain is the strongest since November 2005 when it was 12.9 percent above a year earlier.

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