What you Need to Know about February Housing Numbers

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The highlights from the latest housing report from the National Association of Realtors.

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Winter doesn’t want to let go. But spring is here, and in no time the Northeast will be thawing out, just in time for spring home buying season.

According to the monthly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of existing homes rose by 1.2%, compared with January to an annualized rate of 4.88 million. Sales grew 4.7% compared with February of 2014.

The median price of homes sold hit $202,600, up 7.5% year-over-year, and supplies fell 0.5% from 12 months earlier to 1.89 million.

Severe weather took some edge off the market, according to Danielle Hale, director of housing statistics for NAR, particularly for the Northeast and Midwest regions.

“Piles of snow made it hard for people to get out and look for homes,” said Hale.

Hale expects inventory to pick up as sellers prepare for the spring selling season, traditionally the strongest time of year for the housing market.

There has been a shortage, in particular, of homes available in the lower price categories favored by first-time home buyers.

The median price increase came thanks, in part, to a low percentage of distressed property sales during the month.

Foreclosures and short sales accounted for just 11% of all existing homes sold, down from 16% 12 months earlier, as the housing crisis continued to fade from the scene. Foreclosures sold for about 17% below market value and short sales came with a discount of about 15%.

terre-haute

Home prices were highest in the West at $290,100, followed by the Northeast ($241,800), the South ($177,900), and the Midwest ($152,900).   Check out this 1920’s stone colonial (above) in Terre Haute, Indiana, where $309,900 gets you four bedrooms, three bathrooms and more than half an acre.

Les is a Real Estate Market Specialist for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Born and raised in Whitestone, N.Y., and never having lived outside of NYC, Les is a graduate of City College of New York in Manhattan. Les switched careers in his late 30s, studying writing at New School and Brooklyn Polytechnic, now the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. Les has written for several magazines and copyedited books on early childhood education prior to joining CNNMoney as a personal finance writer, where his main beat was real estate. His wife and partner of 42 years is a retired magazine editor who spent her career at the New York Zoological Society (Bronx Zoo). They are residents of the Upper West Side.

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