Existing home sales take largest annual drop for 3 years

23 February, 2018, 04:59 | Author: Gladys Mathis
  • Realtors Say Existing Home Sales Plummeted in January

Economists expect housing supplies to remain tight this year, which together with rising mortgage-loan rates, could result in modest existing-home sales growth in 2018.

"The utter lack of sufficient housing supply and its influence on higher home prices muted overall sales activity in much of the USA last month", says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $240,500, up 5.8 percent from January 2017 ($227,300).

First-time buyers took up 29 percent of sales in January, down from 32 percent in December 2017 and 33 percent a year ago. A separate report on January sales of new homes is due out Monday.

Buyer demand is stronger than this time a year ago in many locales, Yun said. Individual investors purchased 17 percent of homes in January, up from 16 percent comparing both previous month and a year ago. All told, 43 percent of homes sold were on the market for less than one month.

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Real estate agents told the national trade association that they're hearing from and seeing more interested buyers.

But Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said rising mortgage rates did not explain January's slump in sales, given that sales generally lag changes in interest rates. In central OH, the average sale price was almost 206 thousand dollars, up 5.8 percent from January of 2017. Four percent of sales were foreclosures, and 1% were short sales.

January's sales stem from contracts that were signed in November or December, so they don't reflect the sharp jump in mortgage rates since the beginning of the year. This was the largest annual decline since August 2014. Porter County's sales fell 9 percent to 121, while the median price rose 5.8 percent to $190,500.

The drop was surprising given that pending home sales increased slightly over the past two months, which typically predicts an uptick in existing home sales. The average sale price for a house was $149,500, up 6.2 percent. The total supply of homes for sale fell to 1.52 million last month, the fewest for any January since record keeping began in 1999. The median price in the Midwest was $188,000, up 8.7 percent from a year ago. However, December inventory was revised downward by about 2,000 units to 1.68 million units (SAAR), and that revision accounts for about 5 percent of the month-over-month increase in on-market inventory. The median price in the West was $362,600, up 8.8 percent from January 2017.



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