Home Sales, Prices Surge as Spring Buying Season Starts

The housing market is building momentum as more inventory brings consumers to the market, NAR data shows.

Existing-home sales jumped by nearly 10% in February, the largest monthly increase in a year, as home prices continued to soar, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. And with housing inventory rising in many markets, home buyers are finally finding more options.

Total existing-home sales, which account for completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops, are growing at a quicker pace as the spring selling season nears. That bodes well for real estate professionals frustrated by the stalled market last year. Sales in February jumped the most in the West, South and Midwest.

“Additional housing supply is helping to satisfy market demand,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Housing demand has been on a steady rise due to population and job growth, though the actual timing of purchases will be determined by prevailing mortgage rates and wider inventory choices.”

Home buyers should brace for higher home prices: The median existing-home price in February was $384,500—a nearly 6% uptick compared to a year ago, NAR reports.

But improving inventory conditions may help ease buyer competition. Total housing inventory at the end of February rose by nearly 6% compared to January and was up 10.3% from a year earlier, NAR’s data shows. Properties typically remained on the market for 38 days in February, up from 34 days a year earlier.

More buyers may be able to leverage the sale of a previous home and bring cash to the table on their next purchase. Cash sales climbed to a decade high and comprised 33% of transactions in February, NAR’s data shows. Individual investors and second-home buyers tend to make up the biggest bulk of cash sales. They purchased 21% of homes in February, up from 18% a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

Here’s a closer look at how existing-home sales fared across the country in February, according to NAR’s latest report:

  • Northeast: Home sales were mostly flat compared to January but were down 7.7% from a year ago. “Due to inventory constraints, the Northeast was the regional underperformer in February home sales but the best performer in home prices,” Yun says. “More supply is clearly needed to help stabilize home prices and get more Americans moving to their next residences.” The median price: $420,600, up 11.5% from February 2023. 
  • Midwest: Home sales rose 8.4% from January, reaching an annual rate of 1.03 million, dropping 3.7% from the previous year. The median price: $277,600, up 6.8% from February 2023.
  • South: Existing-home sales climbed 9.8% from January but were still down 2.9% from a year earlier, reaching an annual rate of 2.02 million. The median price: $354,200, up 4.1% from last year.
  • West: Home sales rose by double-digits—16.4%—compared to January, reaching an annual rate of 850,000. Home sales are down 1.2% from the prior year. The median price: $593,000, up 9.1% from a year ago.