Condos Defy Housing Trend, See Sales Uptick

Condo sales nationwide were up 4.8 percent in February compared with January,

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Washington, D.C.-Condo sales nationwide were up 4.8 percent in February compared with January, according to the National Association of Realtors. Some 650,000 units traded hands during the month, compared with a revised figure of 620,000 in January, which itself was the lowest total since August 2009.

Regionally, the South saw the largest increase in condo sales, some 11 percent higher in February than the previous month. In the Northeast, despite the snowstorms that blew through the region during February, condo sales grew 4.5 percent month-over-month. By contrast, sales in both the Midwest and West were static, neither gaining nor losing ground for the month.

Compared with a year ago, when 499,000 condos were sold nationwide, the February 2010 sales figures represent a 30.3 percent increase. All regions recorded year-over-year increases: a whopping 41.8 percent in the South and nearly as much in the Midwest, 35.1 percent. In the West, the year-over-year gain was 30.4 percent and in the Northeast it was 19.8 percent.

NAR also says that prices of existing condos have edged downward, with the average U.S. price being $170,200 in February, compared with $172,500 in January. The February 2010 sales price is nearly the same as during February 2009, when it was $170,600.

The only region in which condo prices have climbed year-over-year, notes NAR, is the Northeast, where it was up 7.1 percent. In other regions, prices have fallen: 3.8 percent in the Midwest, 10.9 percent in the South, and 9.2 percent in the West.

The condo numbers come against a backdrop of declining overall housing sales during February, according to the organization. All finalized transactions for the month, including single-family houses, townhomes, condos and co-ops, dropped 0.6 percent nationwide to an annualized rate of 5.02 million units.

Hard weather might have been a factor, but another likely suspect in the decline is the impending end of the federal homebuyer tax credit. “Although sales have been higher than year-ago levels for eight straight months and home prices are much more stable compared to the past few years, the housing recovery is fragile at the moment,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

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