Home Sales Struggle Following Short Term Boom

Existing-home sales in January fell to their lowest level since 2012 as winter weather continues to drag housing activity, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). 

Total existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, town homes, condos and co-ops, fell 5.1% to an annual rate of 4.62 million in January. 

This marks the slowest month of activity since July 2012, when existing-home sales stood at 4.59 million, notes NAR.

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Unusual weather, specifically a prolonged winter, could be taking its toll on both economic and housing activity, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. 

“Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception,” Yun said. “At the same time, we can’t ignore the ongoing headwinds of tight credit, limited inventory, higher prices and higher mortgage interest rates.”

These issues will continue to hider home sales activity, Yun noted, until positive factors such as job growth and new supply from higher housing starts begin to make an impact. 

Despite the decline in existing-home sales, January saw a median existing-home price for all housing types increase 10.7% to $188,900. 

The month was also a positive one for distressed homes—foreclosures and short sales—which accounted for 15% of January sales, compared to 24% the month reported in 2013.

Regionally, existing-home sales declined in all sectors of the U.S., with the Midwest suffering the largest drop of 7.1% in January. 

In the Northeast, sales were down 3.1% in January, while in the South they fell 3.5%.

Written by Jason Oliva