Home sales activity rose in most of the largest U.S. counties in February after a slowdown in January, but total sales remain far below historical levels, according to DataQuick.
Twenty-nine of 42 counties analyzed in the San Diego firm's Property Intelligence Report experienced an increase in completed transactions last month. Home sales growth was higher in 18 counties compared to January, DataQuick said.
However, only 16 of the 42 counties showed year-over-year improvement in overall home sales.
An example of the uneven sales landscape was evident in Harris County, Texas, which saw month-over-month sales rise by 15%. The Houston region's homes sales were down 17% for the year, DataQuick said.
Similarly, home sales in Orange County, Calif., were up 14% on a month-to-month basis, but fell 11% from a year earlier.
"Many underlying economic factors have contributed to decreased sales over the past year, including unsustainable home price growth," Gordon Crawford, vice president of analytics at DataQuick, said in the report.
For example, home price appreciation was positive in 38 of the 42 counties from January to February. Additionally, 39 counties had greater home values than in February 2013, DataQuick noted.
"Though widespread price increases have started to level off some in the early part of the year, annualized home price growth across all 42 reported markets remained high in February at 7.5%," Crawford said.
The report also showed foreclosures decreased in only 19 of the 42 counties last month compared to the 31 markets that saw fewer foreclosures in January. The Northeast markets of Queens, N.Y., and Fairfield, Conn., experienced the biggest drop in foreclosure activity month-over-month at 57% and 24%, respectively.
Meanwhile, the most notable foreclosure increases were found in Lee County, Fla. (Ft. Myers), which saw a 64% jump in activity after being down nearly 45% in January, as well as Fulton County, Ga., where foreclosures were up by 42% in February after declines of roughly 38% the month before.