February home sales up, prices down
The housing market continued two trends in February: the number of home sales rose while prices dropped.
Sales increased 7 percent compared with a year earlier, less strongly than in January but still heading in the right direction (if we're ever going to see inventory get back to a normal level, anyway).
Average prices fell 5 percent to just under $250,000 -- about $12,000 below the average price six years earlier.
Here's the county-by-county breakdown, which ranges quite a bit.
The other economic report out Thursday was Maryland job numbers, and that was a doozy. The U.S. Department of Labor, which benchmarks state figures every March, revised 2010 numbers so sharply that the 25,000-job gain the state appeared to have in the 12 months ending in December turned -- poof! -- into about 4,500 jobs. Quite a depressing magic trick.
Here's the story about both that report and home sales, the latter of which gets second billing.
You can find the housing-market figures from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems on the website of its stats arm, RealEstate Business Intelligence.
A few more stats:
New pending deals, contracts that were signed in February and will later turn into sales if all goes smoothly, rose 25 percent from a year earlier. That's the same increase reported in January.
New listings rose, too -- 8 percent. There were nearly 16,000 homes on the market in total in February.