Sales of existing homes fell for a third straight month in February, pushing sales down to the lowest level since last July. There is concern the fragile housing rebound is faltering, making it harder for the overall economy to recover.
The National Association of Realtors said today that sales of previously occupied homes dropped 0.6 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.02 million.
The weakness in sales depressed prices with the median home price dropping almost 2 percent from a year ago to $165,100.
Sales activity varied across the country. In the Midwest, sales jumped almost 3 percent, and were up more than 2 percent in the Northeast. In the South, sales fell about 1 percent, and were down almost 5 percent in the West.
“A number of housing markets may be stabilizing or starting to rebound, though we do not yet see, in many respects, a sustained nationwide recovery,” said Jeffrey Mezger, president and chief executive officer, of KB Home, which builds homes in 10 states.
The company reported a $55 million quarterly loss on this week.
In fact, sales nationally have been declining since November, eroding gains made over the summer. The downward direction troubled economists because the government has taken unprecedented steps to support the housing sector.
To keep mortgage rates low, the Federal Reserve has spent almost $1.25 trillion. In addition, Congress extended a deadline for homebuyers to qualify for tax credits. Both programs are set to end soon.
- Associated Press