There have been a number of factors that have contributed to the decline in home sales lately. Low inventory, severe winter weather, and rising prices caused home sales to fall to their lowest monthly level in February since July 2012.
Closed sales declined 0.4 percent in February according to the National Association of Realtors. That was the sixth decline in the past seven months. The severe weather most likely kept buyers from attending open houses, and rising prices kept sales lower than usual.
There are signs the market could be changing. More people have decided to sell their homes, and sales have picked up in the South and West. Also, despite sluggish sales, home prices are continuing to rise. Just in the past year, median home prices have risen 9.1 percent.
February had slightly more first time home buyers than January, accounting for 28 percent of sales. First time home buyers typically make up about 40 percent of market sales. These days first time home buyers are being held back by tight credit standards and student loan debt.
Sales totaled 5.1 million in all of 2013, the highest in seven years, but still lower than what is consistent with a healthy housing market. Since July, monthly sales have fallen 14 percent.