Home sales, prices up in February

Although the housing market often experiences a drop in property values and transaction rates during the fall and winter months, this trend did not come to fruition at the beginning of 2013.

Although the housing market often experiences a drop in property values and transaction rates during the fall and winter months, this trend did not come to fruition at the beginning of 2013. 

During the month of February, nationwide home sales increased 2.3 percent from a year earlier, according to a report from Re/Max. Meanwhile, real estate records indicate median property valued spiked 7 percent from February 2012 to an estimated $160,500. 

"It's clear that the housing recovery is real and is moving full-speed ahead into 2013," said Re/Max CEO Margaret Kelly. "Consumers recognize that we've hit the bottom, and real estate is offering some great opportunities with low prices and low interest rates. This is an attractive combination that most of us will never see again in our lifetimes."

However, the rise in home sales could result in reduced transactions in the coming months. As a result of increased sales last month, the national inventory thinned 2.7 percent, with the average property sitting on the market for just 87 days at the current sales pace, the report said.

Mortgage rates may make buyers move fast
Although prospective homebuyers in certain areas could find themselves with limited options to make the transition to homeownership in the near future, this doesn't mean many of them won't make an attempt.

One factor that could cause more consumers to test the market as the spring and summer homebuying season ramps up is affordable fixed mortgage rates.

During the week ending March 14, the average rate for 30-year FRMs hit 3.63 percent, up from 3.52 percent, according to a report from Freddie Mac. Despite the considerable week-over-week increase, mortgage records show the rate for this type of loan is still well below the 3.92 percent recorded this time last year.

Meanwhile, the rate for 15-year FRMs averaged 2.79 percent, which was a slight gain from 2.76 percent the previous week, the report said.   

"Fixed mortgage rates rose this week on stronger signs of jobs growth and consumer spending," said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft. "The economy added 236,000 new workers in February which helped push down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent."

With mortgage rates expected to hover at current levels for some time and the national economy slowly building momentum, the next six months are expected to be very active ones for the housing market.   



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