RE Brokerage Finds Falling Inventories Hurt Home Sales

Winter weather and tight inventories are taking the steam out of home sales, according to the Re/Max Housing Report.

“January home sales followed a common winter trend, dropping 22% lower than the number of sales in December,” the Denver-based real estate brokerage reported late Thursday afternoon.

However, existing home sales are up 9.1% from January 2012 and prices are up 8%.

“We saw a strong start to 2012 last January, and this year is starting out with an even higher number of sales and increased prices,” said Re/Max chief executive Margaret Kelly.

Meanwhile, the inventory of homes for sale has been falling, and it is now is 29% below the level in January 2012.

This has “pushed prices higher, which helps underwater homeowners,” but has “also created a shortage of homes for potential buyers,” according to the real estate firm, which tracks housing markets in 53 cities nationwide.

(The National Association of Realtors releases its January existing home sales report on Feb. 21.)