Total existing-home sales increased 0.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million in January from a downwardly revised 4.90 million in December, and are 9.1% above the 4.51 million-unit pace in January 2012, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.
Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 4.9% to 1.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.5 months in December, and is the lowest housing supply since April 2005, when it was also 4.2 months.
Listed inventory is 25.3% below a year ago, when there was a 6.2-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since December 1999, when there were 1.71 million homes on the market.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in January, up 12.3% from January 2012, which is the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases; that last occurred from July 2005 to May 2006.
Distressed homes accounted for 23% of January sales, down from 24% in December and 35% in January 2012. Fourteen percent of January sales were foreclosures, and 9% were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20% below market value in January, while short sales were discounted 12%.