Realtors report existing-home sales rose again in January, marking three gains in the past four months, while inventories continued to dwindle. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 4.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million in January from a downwardly revised 4.38 million-unit pace in December and are 0.7 percent above a spike to 4.54 million in January 2011. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said strong gains in contract activity in recent months show buyers are responding to very favorable market conditions. Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 0.4 percent to 2.31 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 6.4-month supply in December. Total unsold listed inventory has trended down from a record 4.04 million in July 2007, and is 20.6 percent below a year ago. All-cash sales were unchanged at 31 percent in January; they were 32 percent in January 2011. Investors account for the bulk of cash transactions. Single-family home sales rose 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.05 million in January from 3.90 million in December, and are 2.3 percent above the 3.96 million-unit pace a year ago while existing condominium and co-op sales increased 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 520,000 in January from 480,000 in December but are 10.3 percent lower than the 580,000-unit level in January 2011.
(Image Credit: Eric Miller)