Existing-home sales take a hit in January

Data from the National Association of Realtors shows a decline, but prices are rising.

On the heels of an unrelenting winter, existing-home sales reached a year-and-a-half low of 4.62 million in January (down 5.1%), though home prices continued to rise, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Single-family home sales were down 5.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.05 million, which is 6.0% below January 2013's rate. 

The median existing-home price -- as well as the median single-family existing-home price -- was $188,900 in January, up 10.7% year-over-year. Meanwhile, total housing inventory rose 2.2% in January to 1.90 million existing homes available for sale, representing a 4.9-month supply.

January's seasonally adjusted annual rate was also 5.1% below January 2013's rate of 4.87 million units (identical to that of December 2013).

“Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Some housing activity will be delayed until spring. 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 hinder home sales activity until the positive factors of job growth and new supply from higher housing starts begin to make an impact.”

NAR president Steve Brown also added that higher flood insurance rates have led to a cancellation or delay of 30% of transactions in flood zones across the country, which account for 8 to 9% of sales.

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