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Monday's fictional headline, via The Onion, National Association of Realtors: "Sales of existing homes increased in February and remain within a fairly stable range."

Why is this fictional? Changes from January to February are measuring seasonal differences, not actual improvements. Year over year changes showed that single family home sales were 23.8% below February 2007 levels.

The national median sales price was also a big surprise, freefalling down 8.2%.

Single-family home sales decreased 22.9%, while the median existing single-family home price was $193,900 in February, down 8.7% from year ago prices.

The best news in the release was the 3% decrease in total housing inventory. At the end of February, there were 4.03 million homes for sale -- a 9.6 9.9-month supply.

~~~

UPDATE: The math in the NAR report is incorrect -- inventory is not 9.6 months, it's 9.9 months (thanks, CR!)

graphic courtesy of Barron's Econoday

Source:
Existing Home Sales Rise In February
National Association of Realtors, March 24, 2008

Source: February Existing Home Sales Fell 23.8%