USA sales of existing homes fell in January from a year earlier by the most in more than three years.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $240,500, up 5.8 percent from January 2017 ($227,300).
Total sales of existing homes, which includes single-family houses, townhouses, condos and co-ops, fell 3.2 percent from the prior month to an annual rate of 5.4 million, seasonally adjusted, well below analyst expectations for a rate of 5.6 million. There was a 3.4 month-supply of homes on the market at the end of January, based on the current sales pace. "There was a nice jump in new home construction in January and homebuilder confidence is high".
"Another month of solid price gains underlines this ongoing trend of strong demand and weak supply", Yun says. There now is a 3.4-month supply of inventory compared to January 2017's 3.6 months. A six- or seven-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.
Real estate agents told the national trade association that they're hearing from and seeing more interested buyers.
Nationally, sales were down in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. They paid an average of $161,897, up 4.8 percent from a year before, according to the Ohio Realtors.
Distressed sales - foreclosures and short sales - were 5 percent of sales in January, unchanged from December and 7 percent below a year ago.
In addition to the rising prices, the average interest rate for 30-year mortgages rose for the fourth straight month and is expected to continue rising in 2017 as monetary policymakers respond to inflation. This was the largest annual decline since August 2014.
"However, while the yearly growth rate in potential sales is now at 3.6 percent, it is expected to slow to just below 1 percent by the end of 2019", he adds.
First-time homebuyers comprised 29 percent of existing-home sales in January, down from 32 percent in December. The median price in the South was $208,200, up 4.3 percent from a year ago.
Also on the increase was the total housing inventory, which ended January at 1.52 million existing homes available for sale, 4.1 percent above December's level. The median price in the West was $362,600, up 8.8 percent from January 2017.