Existing home sales increased 4.3% in January to a seasonally adjusted 4.57 million-unit rate, after a downwardly revised 4.38 million rate in December, originally reported as 4.61 million units, the National Association of Realtors announced Wednesday.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted 4.65 million sales.

Sales were up 0.7% from a 4.54 million unit sales pace last January.

Inventory levels slid 0.4% at the end of January to 2.31 million existing homes for sale, representing a 6.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 6.4 months in last month’s report.

Meanwhile, the national median existing home price was $154,700 in January, off 2.0% from a year ago.

Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales, which sell at deep discounts — accounted for 35% of January sales, up from 32% in December but down from 37% in January 2011.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.