USA TODAY article indicating national trend of sales being affected by low inventory. Local implications will be explored in later posts.
Sales of previously owned homes edged up in January, held back by a shortage of homes for sale, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Single-family home sales increased 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.34 million in January vs. 4.33 million in December, and 8.5% above the 4 million-unit level in January 2012.
The median single-family home price was $174,100 in January, up 12.6% from a year ago.
Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said tight inventory is a problem and, as a result, “We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.”
“Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady,” he said. “In fact, buyer traffic is 40% above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly.”
Homes available for sale at the end of January fell 4.9% to 1.74 million previously owned homes, a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.5 months in December, and the lowest supply since April 2005, when it was also 4.2 months, the NAR said.
The inventory is 25.3% below a year ago, when there was a 6.2-month supply. The number of homes available for sale is at the lowest level since December 1999, when there were 1.71 million homes on the market, the Realtors said.
“We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring, but it may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth,” Yun said.
Sales rose in every region but the West.
Overall, sales of single-family homes, condos and townhouses were up 0.4% from December, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. That was up from a downwardly revised 4.90 million in December, and 9.1% above the 4.51 million-unit pace in January 2012.
Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales — accounted for 23% of January sales, down from 24% in December and 35% in January 2012.
The median time on market for all homes was 71 days in January, down from 73 days in December and 28.3% below 99 days in January 2012.