U.S. residential sale volume decreased in February, with distressed sales and investor purchases also pulling back for the month.
RealtyTrac's February 2014 Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report found that U.S. residential properties slid .2 percent from January, but remain up 7 percent from the same time period a year ago.
U.S. residential properties, which consist of single-family residences, condominiums, and townhomes, sold at an estimated annual pace of 5,083,241 for the month of February.
The national median sales price for non-distressed and distressed homes averaged to $164,667, a 1.0 percent drop from month-to-month. Prices remain elevated on a yearly basis, posting a 4.0 percent increase.
The median price for distressed homes was reported as $96,606, 44 percent below the non-distressed price of $172,339. February was the 20th consecutive month that the U.S. median price increased or stayed flat, and the second consecutive month with a monthly decrease.
February also marked the fourth consecutive month where sales activity decreased from month-to-month, driven largely by monthly decreases in 31 states.
"Supply and demand have reached a bit of a standoff in this uneven real estate recovery," said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. "The supply of distressed properties—which buyers and investors have come to rely on over the past few years—is evaporating quickly in most markets, but that dwindling supply is not being adequately replenished by non-distressed homeowners listing their homes or by new homes being built."
RealtyTrac found that distressed sales and short sales made up 16.9 percent of all U.S. sales in February, up from 16.1 percent in January. However, distressed sales and short sales are down from February, 2013, where they made up 19.1 percent of total sales.
Short sales and bank-owned properties also saw dwindling numbers; both experienced slight monthly increases and overall yearly decreases.
Short sales made up 5.7 percent of all sales, up from 5.5 percent in January, and down 6.9 percent from February, 2013. Bank-owned (REO) sales made up 9.7 percent of total sales, up from 9.3 percent in January, and down from 11.1 percent last year.
Blomquist noted that in addition to distressed properties experiencing a dwindling of supply, investor purchases are also slowing.
"Meanwhile, a key source of demand over the past two years—institutional investors purchasing single family homes as rentals—is starting to decline, and it's not yet clear if that diminishing demand will be filled by first-time homebuyers and move-up buyers," Blomquist said.
Institutional investors made up 5.9 percent of all U.S. residential property sales, up from 5.0 percent in January, yet down from the February, 2013 figure of 7.2 percent. Institutional investor sales in February declined for the third consecutive month on a year-to-year basis after 19 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.
"Since Fannie Mae inventory is mostly comprised of completed home foreclosures with FHA loans, investors target these properties because they tend to be smaller homes that make for better rental property investments," said Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Alliance Realty. "There is very little Fannie Mae inventory left, which coincides with the fact that institutional investors have slowly backed out of the market."
All-cash sales saw 8 consecutive months where sales made up more than 35 percent of all sales. U.S. residential all-cash sales for February was reported as 43.3 percent, up from 42.1 percent in January, and up from 20.2 percent in February, 2013.