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Existing-Home Sales and Prices Continue to Rise in February, according to NAR data released today

February existing-home sales and prices indicate a steady recovery is underway, according to the National Association of Realtors,® which released its nation-wide home sales data compiled from multiple-listing-services across the country today. Home sales have been above prior-year levels for 20 consecutive months, while home prices show 12 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases. In a separate release, government data showed home prices increased in January compared to January 2012Local real estate markets may differ.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million in February from an upwardly revised 4.94 million in January, and are 10.2% above the 4.52 million-unit level seen in February 2012. February sales were at the highest level since the tax credit sales incentive period of November 2009. Still, these nice home sales improvements did not meet the advance expectations of economists surveyed by MarketWatch.com.

NAR Economist, Lawrence Yun, noted a bump in all cash transactions among February closings: “There was an upward bump in the shares of investor and all-cash closed purchases in February. These sales result from purchase offers during the holidays when shopping activity by traditional home buyers slows, but investors, who typically pay cash, remained active,” Yun said. “This is a seasonal pattern, but we’re now seeing a general increase in buyer traffic, which is 25% above a year ago.”

Going forward, non-cash buyers, whose lenders will require appraisals, may slow the pace of price increases in future months since inventory remains low and appraisers must have past comps to justify the sales price opinions they provide. Analysts remain concerned that overly stringent lending standards and ongoing high unemployment could cut the housing market’s improvement.

Remember:  All real estate is local! While this information is important and interesting regarding national and regional trends, when you are ready to buy or sell, you need professional advice regarding your local market:  Here’s the latest Flagstaff Home Sales Report.

To buy or sell a Flagstaff home:  Flagstaff’s Best Real Estate Website.