NAR: ‘Existing Home Sales Are Off to a Strong Start’ in 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Existing home sales fell 1.3% in January on weakness in the West, but still met expectations and are 9.6% higher than they were a year ago. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said it’s a continuation of “a fluctuating pattern of monthly increases and declines.”
Total existing-home sales — defined as completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — decreased to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million. However, overall sales year-over-year were up big (9.6%) for a second straight month.
“Existing-home sales are off to a strong start at 5.46 million.” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said. “The trend line for housing starts is increasing and showing steady improvement, which should ultimately lead to more home sales.”
Forecasts for existing home sales in January ranged from a low of 5.300 million to a high of 5.600 million. The consensus forecast was 5.450 million, down slightly from the initial 5.540 million reported for December.
A significant drop in the West region weighed down the percentage nationwide. The other three major U.S. regions reporting marginal or essentially no changes from the prior month.
The median existing-home price for all housing types was $266,300 in January, up 6.8% from January 2019 ($249,400). Prices rose in every region. December’s price increase marks 95 straight months of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of January totaled 1.42 million units, up 2.2% from December, but down 10.7% from one year ago (1.59 million). The housing inventory level for January is the lowest level since 1999. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace, up from the 3.0-month figure recorded in December and down from the 3.8-month figure recorded in January 2019.
“Mortgage rates have helped with affordability, but it is supply conditions that are driving price growth,” Yun added.
Existing Home Sales Regional Breakdown
In the Northeast, existing home sales were flat at an annual rate of 730,000, which is up 7.4% higher than one year ago. The median price in the was $312,100, up 11.5% year-over-year.
Existing home sales rose 2.4% in the Midwest to an annual rate of 1.29 million and are up 8.4% from a year ago. The median price was $200,000, a gain of 5.4% from January 2019.
In the South, existing home sales ticked slightly higher 0.4% to an annual rate of 2.38 million, up 11.7% year-over-year. The median price was $229,900, up 6.3% from one year ago.
Existing home sales in the West fell 9.4% to an annual rate of 1.06 million, though are still 8.2% higher than a year ago. The median price was $393,800, up 5.2% from January 2019.