Steel Markets

Housing Market Robust in February

Written by Sandy Williams

Existing-home sales jumped 6.5 percent in February, with all regions seeing higher sales except the Northeast, reports the National Association of Realtors. Sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million in February, a 7.2 percent gain from a year ago.

“February’s sales of over 5 million homes were the strongest since February 2007,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “I would attribute that to the incredibly low mortgage rates and the steady release of a sizable pent-up housing demand that was built over recent years.”

Prices increased in every region, with the median price at $270,100 climbing 8 percent from February 2019.

Housing inventory at the end of February was 1.47 million units, a 5.0 percent increase from January but down 9.8 percent year-over-year. Inventory is at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace.

February’s data is not reflective of the current turmoil in the stock market or coronavirus impact, warned Yun.

“These figures show that housing was on a positive trajectory, but the coronavirus has undoubtedly slowed buyer traffic and it is difficult to predict what short-term effects the pandemic will have on future sales,” Yun said.

“For the past couple of months, we have seen the number of buyers grow as more people enter the market,” Yun said. “Once the social-distancing and quarantine measures are relaxed, we should see this temporary pause evaporate, and will have potential buyers return with the same enthusiasm.”

Single-family home sales rose 7.3 percent from a year ago to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in February. The median existing single-family home price was $272,400 in February, up 8.1 percent from February 2019.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were similar to January sales at an adjusted annual rate of 600,000, but were 7.1 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was jumped 7.0 percent year-over-year to $249,900.

While offering a definitive forecast is extremely difficult in light of this national and global emergency, Yun says, home prices will hold on well. “Unlike the stock market, home prices are not expected to drop because of the on-going housing shortage and due to homes getting delisted during this time of crisis.”

Regional Breakdown

Compared to January 2020, existing-sales in the Northeast fell 4.1 percent, while gains of 0.8 percent, 7.2 percent and 18.9 percent were noted in the Midwest, South and West, respectively.

Compared to a year ago, prices rose by 8.2 percent to $295,400 in the Northeast, by 7.9 percent to $203,700 in the Midwest, by 8.2 percent to $238,000 in the South, and by 8.1 percent to $410,100 in the West.

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