The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that existing home sales decelerated for the second straight month, down 3.2 percent in January. Sales of existing homes declined from 5.56 million units at the annual rate in December to 5.38 million in January, its slowest pace since September. Despite some easing in the past two months, the good news is that existing home sales remain not far from November’s rate, which was the fastest since February 2007.
The underlying data in January were mixed. Existing single-family home sales were off from an annualized 4.95 million units in December to 4.76 million in January, but condominium and co-op sales edged up from 610,000 to 620,000. Existing home sales were lower in every region of the country, with the largest decreases in the Midwest and West. On a year-over-year basis, sales were off by 3.2 percent.
Regarding the inventory of existing homes, there were 3.4 months of supply in January, up from 3.2 months in December but down from 4.2 months in September. As such, supplies have generally trended lower, which has helped to raise list prices. The median existing home sales price was $240,500 in January, up 5.8 percent from one year ago. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun commented about the lack of supply in the press release, adding “It’s very clear that too many markets right now are becoming less affordable and desperately need more new listings to calm the speedy price growth.”