Home Sales Increasing Nationwide

Home sales increasing

Home sales increasing

courtesy of CNBC

What slow down?

Home sales rebounded more strongly than expected in February, and the National Association of Realtors says they could have been even higher if there were more homes for sale.  It appears that nationwide, home sales are increasing.

A critical shortage of listings is the No. 1 obstacle, especially in higher price ranges — not rising mortgage rates or new tax laws that reduce certain homeowner deductions.  Sales at the lowest end of the market, however, homes priced under $100,000, were down 16.5 percent compared with a year ago.

Realtors polled for the monthly survey said they are hearing very few concerns from buyers about rising mortgage rates or the new tax laws, even fewer concerns than in December, when the tax laws were in final debate. That is not the case for potential sellers.

Mortgage rates are not historically high today, but they are about half a percentage point higher since the start of this year and are clearly on an upward trajectory.

 

The number of homes for sale did increase slightly in February, which always happens as the busy spring market approaches, but supply is still down more than 8 percent from a year ago; supply is up on the high end and far lower on the low end of the market. Homebuilders continue to build higher-end homes as well, because rising costs for land, labor and materials have shrunk their margins for entry-level homes.

Shortage on the lower end is likely why first-time homebuyers pulled back in February. There had been a surge in this cohort last year, but clearly affordability and supply is weighing more heavily on them now.

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