Home sales struggle amid tight inventory, winter weather

Tough weather conditions, in conjunction with limited inventory and unfavorable lending standards, have contributed to lower home sales across the country.

This winter hasn't been fun for a lot of people, and in parts of the country it refuses to show signs of slowing down. These tough weather conditions, in conjunction with limited inventory and unfavorable lending standards, have contributed to lower home sales across the country. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, total existing-home sales across the country decreased 0.4 percent from January to February, now at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.60 million units. That figure is also 7.1 percent lower than the level in February 2013. 

"We had ongoing unusual weather disruptions across much of the country last month, with the continuing frictions of constrained inventory, restrictive mortgage lending standards and housing affordability less favorable than a year ago," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead. With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year."

NAR also reported that 11 percent of February's sales were foreclosures, while only 5 percent were short sales. In addition, foreclosed houses sold for an average of 16 percent below market value during the month, compared to 11 percent for short sales.

Poor weather limits builder activity
The tough winter weather is hampering other sectors of real estate as well, as the National Association of Home Builders reported that homebuilders nationwide are waiting for conditions to improve in order to resume work.

NAHB chief economist David Crowe noted that improvements are expected soon. He explained that due to competitive mortgage rates, better home prices and a stronger economy, the real estate sector is expected to grow throughout the remainder of 2014. 

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