The stock market jumped today as home sales as more homes got sold than expected in February. The National Association of Realtors reports that sales of existing homes—including condos—rose at a rate of 5.1% in February from the previous month. The median price of a single-family home nationally was $164,000, down 3% from January and 15% from February of last year.
Foreclosures and other distressed transactions made up 45% of sales nationally. The inventory of homes for sale climbed, but the time it will take the sell a homes based on current sales trends stayed flat at 9.7 months.
“Our analysis shows that distressed homes typically are selling for 20 percent less than the normal market price, and this naturally is drawing down the overall median price,” said the Realtors’ chief economist Lawrence Yun.
Sales climbed highest in the Northeast at 15.6 percent. But other regions of the country also did better than expected. “Strong sales gains in the West are led by California, where the median listing price is beginning to rise for the first time in three years,” Yun said.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.