Shopping for a new home isn’t the most appealing thing to do when it’s cold and snowy – and that was apparent in February’s local home sales report.
The local housing market, which was sizzling last summer, cooled a bit during February, as it usually does during winter months, new data from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors shows.
Home sales were down sharply and fewer homes went up for sale. At the same time, median prices kept rising strongly as the supply of homes for sale remained limited.
So while the weather may have put a damper on some activity, the underpinnings that have shaped the housing market for the past two years remain in place.
“Local housing markets have proven to be resilient so far this year, despite predictions of a tougher year for the industry,” the real estate group said in a report. “It is still to early to say how the entire year will play out, but economic fundamentals – such as low unemployment and rising wages – remain positive.”
Median sale prices have come down from the all-time highs that they hit in late spring last year, but the overall trend in prices continues to be upward.
While the unpleasant February weather put a big dent in home sales, the homes that did sell went for much higher prices. The median sale price jumped by 11 percent to $146,75, which was a record high for the February doldrums, but was down from the record highs of more than $160,000 that were set late last spring.
With buyers scrambling for a small supply of homes, the pace of home sales has been slowing for two straight years.
After falling by 1.6 percent during 2017, home sales dropped by 2 percent last year, based on revised data from the real estate trade group. The trend continued into February, with sales over the preceding 12 months down by 4.7 percent.
The number of homes for sale fell by 2 percent last month – resuming a seven-year decline in inventory that had been briefly interrupted by a small uptick in listings during January.
New listings, which were down 4 percent last year, fell by 7 percent, reversing a 9 percent January increase.
The average home that sold during January was on the market for 53 days. That’s four days less than during February 2018 and more than two weeks faster than two years ago.
With demand still strong, home sellers still are able to hold fairly firm to their asking price. The average home that sold last month went for 97.2 percent of its most recent asking price.