U.S. Existing Home Sales Unexpectedly Decline For Twelfth Straight Month In January

Existing home sales in the U.S. unexpectedly decreased for the twelfth consecutive month in January, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Tuesday.

NAR said existing home sales slid 0.7 percent to an annual rate of 4.00 million in January after tumbling by 2.2 percent to a revised rate of 4.12 million in December.

The continued decline surprised economists, who had expected existing home sales to inch up by 0.1 percent compared to the 1.5 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

“Home sales are bottoming out,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Prices vary depending on a market’s affordability, with lower-priced regions witnessing modest growth and more expensive regions experiencing declines.”

The unexpected decrease reflected weakness in the Northeast and Midwest, where existing home sales plunged by 3.8 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, the report said existing home sales in the South jumped by 1.1 percent, while existing home sales in the West surged by 2.9 percent.

NAR also said total housing inventory at the end of January was 980,000 units, up 2.1 percent from 960,000 units in December and up 15.3 percent from 850,000 a year ago.

The unsold inventory represents 2.9 months of supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from December but up from 1.6 months in January 2022.

“Inventory remains low, but buyers are beginning to have better negotiating power,” Yun said. “Homes sitting on the market for more than 60 days can be purchased for around 10% less than the original list price.”

The report said the median existing home price was $359,000 in January, down 2.1 percent from $366,500 in December but up 1.3 percent from $354,300 a year ago.

On Friday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new home sales in the month of January.

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