January Continues to Attract Buyers for Existing Homes

Sales of previously owned homes edged up 0.4% in January from the prior month despite a dearth of properties for sale and rising prices.

The National Association of Realtors reported on Thursday that sales of existing single-family homes, condominiums and cooperatives rose to a 4.92 million seasonally adjusted annual rate in January from a 4.9 million rate in December.

January sales are up 9% from a year ago. But NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun is concerned the inventory is too tight, which favors sellers.

“We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring but it may be insufficient to avoid frequent incidents of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth,” Yun said.

Total inventory fell to 1.74 million units in January, a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace.

Meanwhile, the median sales price in January was $173,600—up 12.3% a year ago.

And NAR data show more move-up buyers are entering the market.

Sales of homes in the $250,000 to $500,000 range are up 27% from a year ago, according to the January report. And sales in the $500,000 to $750,000 range are up 30% from the year ago.

First-time homebuyers comprised 30% of January buyers and investors purchased 19% of the homes.