February produces surge in home sales and prices

by Joe Ward


Across-the-board rises in new home sales, average sales price and inventory were reported in February, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Home sales in February totaled 592,000, up 6 percent from January’s 558,000 and up 12 percent from February 2016’s estimated total of 525,000 homes sold. There were 266,000 homes up for sale last month, a 6.1 percent increase from January. We’ll take a closer look at the relationship between inventory and supply following annual and monthly sale comparisons.

We’ve compiled new home sales, median and average sales prices collected from the recent report and those from prior months and years below. The first chart shows changes that have occurred annually, and the second shows the changes that have occurred on a month-to-month basis: 

Annual Comparison

Month New Home Sales Median Sales Price Average Sales Price
February 2014 459,000 $261,800 $317,500
February 2015 543,000 $275,000 $341,000
February 2016 519,000 $301,400 $348,900
February 2017 592,000 $296,200 $390,400

Monthly Comparison

Month Total Units Sold Median Sales Price Average Sales Price
November 2016 598,000 $275,000 $341,000
December 2016 535,000 $322,500 $384,000
January 2016 558,000 $312,900 $360,900
February 2017 592,000 $296,200 $390,400


High demand with little supply has spiked the value of homes sold nationwide, and although inventory has shown consistent positive gains over the past few years, supply is still at an all time low and will remain there if demand holds. January 2016 had an inventory of 238,000 homes, supply standing at 5.8 months, and February 2016 saw 240,000 homes for sale with supply at 5.6 months. This year, January was up to 265,000 homes for sale, enough supply to 5.7 months and February held 266,000, good for a 5.4 months supply, according to Zillow’s 2017 Market Report. As decreases in permit authorizations are seen, new homes aren’t being built quickly enough to accommodate for the loss in supply.

On a regional scale, sales in the Northeast fell 21.4 percent to a rate of 33,000 but remained 13.8 percent ahead of February 2016. The Midwest rose 30.9 percent to a rate of 89,000, 50.8 percent above the same month last year. The South was up 3.6 percent to 313,000, 7.9 percent above last year. The West rose 7.5 percent to a rate of 157,000, 6.8 percent higher than last February reports Builder.

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