Existing-Home Sales Fell 3.2% in January on Tight Inventory

Washington, DC, February 21, 2018-Total existing-home sales sank 3.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million from a downwardly revised 5.56 million in December 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors.

After last month’s decline, sales are 4.8% below a year ago (largest annual decline since August 2014 at 5.5%) and at their slowest pace since last September (5.37 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says January’s retreat in closings highlights the housing market’s glaring inventory shortage to start 2018. “The utter lack of sufficient housing supply and its influence on higher home prices muted overall sales activity in much of the U.S. last month,” he said. “While the good news is that Realtors in most areas are saying buyer traffic is even stronger than the beginning of last year, sales failed to follow course and far lagged last January’s pace. 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.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $240,500, up 5.8% from January 2017 ($227,300). January’s price increase marks the 71st straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of January rose 4.1% to 1.52 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 9.5% lower than a year ago (1.68 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 32 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace (3.6 months a year ago).


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