Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Existing home sales tumble 9.6%

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sales of existing homes fell in February after three straight monthly increases, an industry group said Monday.

According to the National Association of Realtors, homes sold at an annual rate of 4.88 million in February, down 9.6% from January and 2.8% lower than February 2010 sales.

The report was worse than economists had expected. A consensus of experts surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast an annualized sales rate of 5.05 million.

At the same time, the median home price declined 5.2% compared to the previous year, to $156,100.

"Housing affordability conditions have been at record levels and the economy has been improving, but home sales are being constrained," Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement.

Yun said the housing market recovery is bound to be rocky, especially with the tight credit market.

NAR reported that all-cash sales went up to a record 33% of the total, up from 27% a year earlier. It estimated the percentage of investor purchases hit 19%, the same level as a year ago.

"The decline in price corresponds to the record level of all-cash purchases where buyers -- largely investors -- are snapping up homes at bargain prices," Yun explained. "We'd be seeing greater numbers of traditional home buyers if mortgage credit conditions return to normal."

The decrease in sales was accompanied by an increase in supply. Inventory rose 3.5% to 3.49 million units, an 8.6-month supply at the current rates of sales.

Normally, a five or six-month supply is considered a good balance between supply and demand. To top of page

Search for Jobs

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,202.96 57.25 0.32%
Nasdaq 5,298.26 40.86 0.78%
S&P 500 2,147.75 6.59 0.31%
Treasuries 1.77 0.03 1.55%
Data as of 12:39pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
AT&T Inc 36.86 -0.63 -1.69%
Bank of America Corp... 16.76 0.08 0.51%
Time Warner Inc 87.48 -2.00 -2.23%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 6.36 -0.32 -4.79%
Microsoft Corp 60.40 0.75 1.25%
Data as of 12:24pm ET


The combo brings together AT&T's wireless and Internet business and DirecTV with Time Warner programming, including CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. More

Wages have plummeted for Donald Trump's key supporters, so-called "middle skill" workers who are often in manufacturing, More

Microsoft is raising prices in the U.K. by whopping 22%, in response to the collapsing value of the pound. More

The University of Illinois partnered with Coursera to launch one of the most affordable online MBA programs yet. More