How's That? Home Sales, Prices, Inventory All Drop
The National Association of Realtors is out this morning with its home-sales report for January. And it shows a surprising mix: The number of existing-home sales, of all types, fell 5.3 percent from December to January. (That number is adjusted to account for seasonal variations; it's down 8.6 percent compared with a year earlier.) The median price fell 3.07 percent in January to $170,300. (That's an annual decrease of 14.8 percent.)
What's odd is that total inventory of homes available for sale also fell 2.7 percent. If both sales and inventory are down, that means fewer homes were put on the market in January than in December. Usually the supply of homes for sale starts to drift up in January as sellers anticipate the busier spring market.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, said the decline in new listings could in part be because of moratoriums on foreclosures that some large lenders announced in anticipation of the federal government's housing plan. Foreclosures and short-sales have been a huge part of the housing market lately. NAR estimates they made up about 45 percent of all sales in January.
Or maybe non-distressed sellers were simply holding back from the market in January, waiting to see what kind of market would develop after the government released its housing plan.
The prevalence of distressed sales explains why the median price fell so much. It was $169,900 for a single-family house in January, 13.8 percent lower than a year ago. Condos took a much bigger hit, with sales dropping 10.2 percent in January, for a 20.3 percent annual decline. The median price for an existing condo fell 20.6 percent since January, 2008, to a new median of $174,400.
The inventory of all homes on the market has fallen for six straight months, which is a promising sign. It will be interesting to see what happens this spring. Will foreclosures rise as moratoriums expire, or will they flatten out or decrease as the government's new refinance program goes into place? NAR is counting more on the newly announced sales incentives, namely the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit and the higher jumbo-loan limit, to boost sales this year. They estimate those measures will trigger 9000,000 extra home sales this year and help stabilize prices.
Are you seeing any decline in the inventory of homes for sale locally?
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