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Existing home sales up 3.1% in January

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Existing home sales increased 3.1% in January, but year-over-year sales fell.

Existing home sales were up 3.1% from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4 million in January. Year-over-year, sales declined 1.7% (down from 4.07 million in January 2023), according to the National Association of Realtors.

“While home sales remain sizably lower than a couple of years ago, January’s monthly gain is the start of more supply and demand,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Listings were modestly higher, and home buyers are taking advantage of lower mortgage rates compared to late last year.”

Total housing inventory was up 2% from December and 3.1% from last year (980,000). At January’s sales pace, unsold inventory sits at a 3-month supply, that’s down from 3.1 months in December, but up from 2.9 months in January 2023.

Sale prices increased. The median existing home price for all housing types in January was $379,100, an increase of 5.1% from one year ago ($360,800).

“The median home price reached an all-time high for the month of January,” Yun said. “Multiple offers are common on mid-priced homes, and many homes were still sold within a month. The elevated share of cash deals – 32% – indicated a market full of multiple offers and propelled by record-high housing wealth.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.77% as of February 15. That’s up from 6.64% the previous week and 6.32% one year ago, according to Freddie Mac.

All-cash sales accounted for 32% of transactions in January, up from 29% in both December and one year ago. Investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, bought 17% of homes in January, up from 16% in December and January 2023.