21 February 2013 17:16 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US sales of existing homes rose marginally in January from December, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Thursday, noting that the market for previously owned homes is running 9% ahead of January 2012.
In its monthly report, the NAR said that existing home sales rose by about 0.4% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92m units compared with the downwardly revised sales pace of 4.90m in December.
December’s sales of existing homes had initially been put at 4.94m units. Had December’s figure not been revised downward, the January total would have shown a decline.
While sales growth in the existing homes market remains modest, the NAR noted that January’s sales pace was 9.1% ahead of the same month last year, a sign that the housing recovery is gaining strength.
Sales of existing homes would be stronger, the NAR said, if there were more single-family homes, condos and co-ops available for sale.
“Tight inventory is a major factor in the market,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
“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.”
The availability of existing homes for sale was lower in January, the NAR said, with the inventory of for-sale homes off by nearly 5% from December to 1.74m units.
At the current sales pace, those 1.74m homes for sale represent a 4.2-month supply. That inventory level marks the lowest housing availability since April 2005 when the US housing boom was still in full flower.
In January 2012, the inventory of for-sale existing homes constituted a 6.2-month supply.
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