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NAR: Sales Pace Increases, but Prices Down

FEB 22, 2012 1:05pm ET
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Sales of existing homes rose 4.3% in January from the prior month as a mild winter and improving economic conditions encouraged buyers, according to figures released Wednesday morning.

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously owned homes have risen three times in the past four months.

“The uptrend in home sales is in line with all the underlying fundamentals -- pent-up household formation, record-low mortgage interest rates, bargain home prices, sustained job creation and rising rents,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

Sales of existing homes rose to a 4.57 million seasonally adjusted annual rate in January from a 4.38 million rate in December. But overall, sales are up just 0.7% from a year ago.

Purchases of condominiums and cooperatives jumped 8.3% in January from the prior month, while sales of single-family homes rose 3.8%.

The median price of a home sold in January was $154,000, down 2% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, the inventory of unsold homes fell to a 5.8-month supply based on the current sales pace, down 24% from last January.

“The broad inventory condition can be described as moving into a rough balance, not favoring buyers or sellers,” Yun said. 

“Foreclosure sales are moving swiftly with ready home buyers and investors competing in nearly all markets,” Yun said. “A government proposal to turn bank-owned properties into rentals on a large scale does not appear to be needed at this time.”

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