Existing home sales drop in Jan. to lowest level since Nov. 2015

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Existing home sales were down 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted 4.94 million-unit rate in January after a 4.0% decline to a 5.00 million sales pace the previous month, the National Association of Realtors announced Thursday.

It was the fourth consecutive monthly decline and the lowest level since November 2015.

The January rate is an 8.5% decrease from the same month a year ago. The headline number was below the median 5.00 million unit pace predicted by economists polled by IFR Markets.

“Existing home sales in January were weak compared to historical norms; however, they are likely to have reached a cyclical low,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Moderating home prices combined with gains in household income will boost housing affordability, bringing more buyers to the market in the coming months.”

Sales in the regions were mostly lower. They were up 2.9% in the Northeast, but declined 2.5% in the Midwest, 1.0% in the South, and down 2.9% in the West.

The median sales price was $247,500 in January, up 2.8% from a year ago.

Inventory levels rose to 1.59 million existing homes from 1.53 million in December, representing a 3.9-month supply at the current pace. Inventory was up from 3.7 months in December and 3.4 months in January 2018.

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Economic indicators Housing