Existing-home sales decreased 3.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in January, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). January was the second consecutive monthly decline. Sales finished the year 4.8% below January 2017. This was the largest annual decline since August 2014.
“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,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “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 total housing inventory rose 4.1% to 1.52 million homes available for sale, 9.5% lower than last January and the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year decline. The median existing home price was $240,500, up 5.8% from January 2016 ($227,300). This marks the 71st straight month of year-over-year gains.
Distressed sales were 5% of the total, unchanged from last month and down 2% from a year ago. Four percent of sales were foreclosures, and 1% were short sales.
Read the NAR release.