January Home Sales Highest For Month In 6 Years, Homes Selling Faster At Higher Prices

Includes: ITB, IYR, REZ, XHB
by: Mark J. Perry

From today's housing report from the National Association of Realtors:

Existing-home sales edged up in January, while a seller’s market is developing and home prices continue to rise steadily above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million in January from a downwardly revised 4.90 million in December, and are 9.1 percent above the 4.51 million-unit pace in January 2012.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in January, up 12.3 percent from January 2012, which is the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases; that last occurred from July 2005 to May 2006. The January gain is the strongest since November 2005 when it was 12.9 percent above a year earlier (see chart above).

The median time on market for all homes was 71 days in January, down from 73 days in December and is 28.3 percent below 99 days in January 2012.

The 4.92 million houses sold last month (at an annual rate) was the highest home sales total for the month of January in six years, going back to 2007. Today's report on existing-home sales indicates that more homes are selling faster at higher prices, which is what a housing recovery looks like.

One market for especially strong home sales in January was Houston, where the real estate market is being described as an"all-time frenzy" as "sellers are getting offers from multiple buyers on the day their house goes up for sale." Home sales skyrocketed in January by 29%, or three times the national average of 9%, and the average sales price for Houston homes sold last month was the highest ever for the month of January.