Rising prices and lousy weather across much of the country dampened sales of existing homes in February, the National Assn. of Realtors said Thursday morning.
Sales of previously owned homes, which represent the vast bulk of the housing market, fell 0.4% from January to 4.6 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. That's down 7.1% from the same month last year and their slowest pace since July 2012. The median sales price was $189,000, up 9.1% from a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, of the Realtors group, pointed to continued low inventory, tough mortgage standards and higher prices for the slow sales, and said the rough winter weather that gripped much of the country was also a factor.
"Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvements in the months ahead," he said in a statement. "With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year."
In the West, which missed the deep freeze and snowstorms of February, sales grew 5.9% -- the fastest pace of any region -- but still were down 10.1% from a year earlier. The median price in the West was $279,400 last month, up 18% from February 2013.