March 15, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

Low mortgage rates and favorable home prices are attracting buyers back into the housing market as annual sales climbed for the eighth consecutive month in February and home prices increased for the first time in a year-and-a-half according to RE/MAX’s National Housing Report (NHR).

Closed transactions of home purchases increased 1.1 percent from January to February and were 8.7 percent higher than in February 2011, the eighth consecutive month home sales have increased year-over-year.

Forty-five out of the 53 metro areas in the report posted year-over-year increases in closed transactions, up from 20 metro areas in January. Albuquerque, NM (+46.6%), Providence, RI (+36.7%), Raleigh, NC (+33.8%), Boston, MA (+30.5%) and Chicago, IL (+27.5%) recorded the highest year-over-year gains in closed transactions in February.

The median sales price of homes sold in February was 1.4 percent higher than in the previous month of January, increasing from $170,598 to $171,881. The median sales price was 1.1 percent higher than the median price of $170,025 in February of 2011. It was the first time in 18 months that home prices have increased year-over-year.

Twenty-four of the 53 metro areas posted higher sales prices in February than they did a year earlier, up from 15 metro areas the previous month. The areas that posted the largest price gains during the month were Miami, FL (+20.5%), Orlando, FL (+15.8%), Phoenix, AZ (+12.5%), Tampa, FL (+11.1%), and St. Louis, MO (+9.8%).

The average number of days it took to sell a home in February was 103, the same number of days it took in January. The average month’s supply of inventory in February was 6.6, down from 7.3 months in January and down from a 9.3 months supply of homes in February 2011.

The reduced level of foreclosure activity has left housing supplies dwindling with the average monthly inventory of homes for sale declining by 0.8 percent from January and 22.4 percent from February 2011. It was the 20th consecutive month that the supply of homes for sale has declined.

Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX, LLC., stated “All the data is pointing to a very active spring and summer selling season this year, which is great news for a recovering housing market. As sales numbers have trended higher for several months, we have been anticipating a turnaround in home prices, and it looks like it’s finally starting.”

Tags: home sales, home prices, seasonal trends, closed transactions, median sales price