Augusta homes sales rise as national rate falls

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 11:33 AM
Last updated 11:48 AM
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U.S. home resales unexpectedly fell in February, and the supply of properties on the market rose, underscoring the many hurdles for the housing recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday that existing home sales slipped 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.59 million units last month.

Augusta metro area homes sales, however, crept higher to 345 units, up from 299 homes in Janaury and up from 307 units in February 2011, according to data from the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors.

Sales last month were mixed, declining sharply in the Northeast and West. Sales were up in the Midwest and South.

Still, the report offered some signs of healing in the housing market, with the median home price rising 0.3 percent from a year ago to $156,600.

“We’re not seeing any pricing power, which suggests it’s still a weak market,” said Gary Thayer, the chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisers in St. Louis. “But prices are not dropping as sharply as they were several years ago. We are seeing some signs of stability in pricing.”

The median price in Augusta in Febraury was $124,150, lower than the $142,900 median sales price in January.

Data on Tuesday showed permits to build homes rose to a near 3½ year high in February. However, the housing market continues to be choked by a glut of unsold properties, which are weighing down prices.

The inventory of unsold homes on the market increased 4.3 percent to 2.43 million units last month. At February’s sales pace, that represented 6.4 months’ supply, up from 6 months in January. A supply of six months generally is considered ideal.

Distressed properties, foreclosures and short sales, which typically occur at deep discounts, made up a third of overall sales last month.


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