Existing-Home Sales Up Nearly 24 Percent in January Compared With a Year Earlier


Existing-home sales in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million: an increase of 0.6% compared with December and up 23.7% compared with January 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Regionally, and month-over-month, existing-home sales fell 2.2% in the Northeast and 4.4% in the West, but increased 1.9% in the Midwest and 3.2% in the South.

The median sales price for an existing home in January was $303,900. That’s up 14.1% compared with January 2020.

“Home sales continue to ascend in the first month of the year, as buyers quickly snatched up virtually every new listing coming on the market,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR. “Sales easily could have been even 20 percent higher if there had been more inventory and more choices.”

“Home sales are continuing to play a part in propping up the economy,” Yun adds. “With additional stimulus likely to pass and several vaccines now available, the housing outlook looks solid for this year.”

Yun says he expects more jobs to return, which will spur homebuying in the coming months. He predicts existing-home sales will reach at least 6.5 million in 2021 – this despite that mortgage rates are forecast to inch higher.

The big unknown os whether home builders will rise to the occasion in 2021 and bring needed inventory online. Total housing inventory at the end of January amounted to 1.04 million units, down 1.9% from December and down 25.7% from one year ago. 

That’s a 1.9-month supply at the current sales pace – equal to December’s supply and down from the 3.1-month amount recorded in January 2020.

Photo: Todd Kent

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