WASHINGTON, March 22 U.S. home resales fell more
than expected in February amid a persistent shortage of houses
on the market that is pushing up prices and sidelining potential
The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday
existing home sales declined 3.7 percent to a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million units last month.
January's sales pace was unrevised at 5.69 million units,
which was the highest level since February 2007. Economists
polled by Reuters had forecast sales decreasing 2.0 percent to a
pace of 5.57 million units last month.
Sales were up 5.4 percent from February 2016, underscoring
the sustainability of the housing market recovery despite rising
mortgage rates. Demand for housing is being buoyed by a labor
market that is near full employment. But home sales remain
constrained by the dearth of properties available for sale,
which is keeping prices elevated.
While the number of homes on the market increased 4.2
percent to 1.75 million units last month, housing inventory
remained close to the all-time low of 1.65 million units hit in
December. Supply was down 6.4 percent from a year ago.
Housing inventory has dropped for 21 straight months on a
With supply remaining tight, the median house price surged
7.7 percent from a year ago to $228,400 in February. That marked
the 60th consecutive month of year-on-year price gains.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)