Existing-Home Sales Up, Inventory Down

Yesterday, we reported positive news on Chicago real estate sales in January. Fortunately, the good start to the year extended past Illinois and across the country.
Existing U.S. home sales rose 4.3 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
for sale sign saying sold in front of a homeIt is an improvement over home sales in January 2011, albeit minute, as sales last month are 0.7 percent above the 4.54 million during the same month last year.
In addition, total housing inventory at the end of last month fell 0.4 percent to 2.31 million existing U.S. homes for sale. That represents a 6.1-month supply at the current sales pace, a decline from the 6.4-month supply posted in December.
“The uptrend in home sales is in line with all of the underlying fundamentals – pent-up household formation, record-low mortgage interest rates, bargain home prices, sustained job creation and rising rents,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
Just like around Chicago, however, home values are still declining. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $154,700 in January, a 2.0 percent drop from January 2011.
Other numbers from January 2012:
*Foreclosures (22 percent) and short sales (13 percent) accounted for 35 percent of all home sales last month, up from 32 percent in December. In January 2011, they accounted for 37 percent.
*Single-family home sales rose 3.8 percent from December to January and are 2.3 percent above the pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $154,400 in January, down 2.6 percent from January 2011.
*Existing condominium and co-op sales rose 8.3 percent but are 10.3 percent lower than in January 2011. The median existing condo price was $156,600 in January, which is actually a 2.0 percent increase from a year ago.
*Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1.0 percent from December and 3.2 percent from January 2011, and the median price was $122,000, down 3.9 percent from a year ago.
*The Northeast rose 3.4 percent from December and 7.1 percent from a year ago, while the median price was $225,700, 4.2 percent lower than last January. The South rose 3.5 percent in January but is unchanged from a year ago; the median price of $134,800 was 0.3 percent lower than last January. The West rose 8.8 percent last month but is 3.1 percent below last year, and the median price fell 1.8 percent to $187,100.
“Word has been spreading about the record high housing affordability conditions and our members are reporting an increase in foot traffic compared with a year ago,” said NAR President Moe Veissi.
“With other favorable market factors, these are hopeful indicators leading into the spring home-buying season. We’re cautiously optimistic that an uptrend will continue this year.”