Existing home sales dropped for the third straight month in January, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors. This is the lowest level in recent three years.
Total Existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million in January, the lowest level since November 2015. On a year-over-year basis, sales were down 8.5% compared to a year ago.
Meanwhile, the first-time buyer share declined to 29% from 32% last month but remained unchanged from a year ago. The January inventory increased to 1.59 million units from 1.53 million units in December, and was up from 1.52 million units compared to a year ago. At the current sales rate, the January unsold inventory represents a 3.9-month supply, up from a 3.7-month supply last month and up from a 3.4-month supply a year ago.
Homes stayed on the market for 49 days in January, up from 46 days in December and 42 days a year ago. In January, 38% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.
The January all-cash sales share was 23%, up from December and a year ago (22 percent in both cases).
The January median sales price of $247,500 was up 2.8% from a year ago, representing the 83rd consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The January median condominium/co-op price of $233,000 was up 0.1% from a year ago.
Regionally, while existing sales in the Northeast grew 2.9%, sales fell 2.5% in the Midwest, 1.0% in the South and 2.9% in the West compared to the previous month. Year-over-year, sales declined in all four regions, ranging from 1.4% in the Northeast to 13.8% in the West.
The NAR suggested that weak sales in January might reach a cyclical low, but moderating home prices and lower mortgage rates would boost housing affordability. Meanwhile, builder confidence in February rose by four points, as the gradual decline in mortgage rates as well as the solid job market help to sustain builder sentiment.