Existing Sales Fall 3.2 Percent in January


Existing-home sales decreased 3.2% in January, and the first-time buyer share slipped to 29% from 32% last month. The National Association of Realtors reported that 43% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month. The January inventory actually increased 4.1%, but is 9.5% below the level a year ago, and has decreased for 32 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. At the current sales rate, the January unsold inventory represents a 3.4-month supply, slightly up from a 3.2-month supply in December. January existing sales reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.38 million units, compared to a downwardly revised 5.56 million in December. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

Existing sales decreased monthly in all four regions ranging from 1.3% in the South to 6.0% in the Midwest. Year-over-year sales also decreased in all four regions, ranging from 1.7% in the South to 9.5% in the West.

Homes stayed on the market for 42 days In January, down from 50 days a year ago.

The January all-cash sales share was 22%, up from 20% in December, but down from 23% a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 17% share in January, up from 16% in December and a year ago.

The January median sales price of $240,500 was up 5.8% from a year ago, representing the 71st consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The January median condominium/co-op price of $231,600 was up 7.1%% from a year ago.

Single-family starts increased 3.7% in January, and builder confidence remains strong. Personal income gains and jobs will continue to spur more gains by first-time buyers into the housing market, and that demand is good news for residential construction.

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