Home resales dip 0.4% as inventories climb
Resales of U.S. homes and condos dropped 0.4% in January to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.89 million even as inventories of homes on the market rose, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.
It was the lowest sales pace since the real estate group began tracking combined sales in 1999, but was stronger than the 4.80 million pace expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. See Economic Calendar.
Resales were down 23.4% compared with the previous January.
The inventory of homes on the market rose 5.5% to 4.19 million, representing a 10.3-month supply at the January sales pace. The inventory rose 18.4% compared with January 2007.
With a glut of homes on the market, the median sales price fell 4.6% over the past year to $201,000.
Existing-home "sales are very soft, but stable" over the past five months since a credit crunch hit the mortgage market, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the real estate agents' trade group. After falling sharply in 2006 and early 2007, sales have been relatively stable around 5 million since September.
In January, sales rose 3.4% in the Midwest but fell in the other regions, dropping 3.6% in the Northeast, 2.1% in the West and 0.5% in the South.
Sales of single-family homes rose 0.5% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.34 million from a 10-year low of 4.32 million in December. The median price of single-family home fell to $198,700, down 5.1% compared with a year earlier.
Sales of condos dropped 6.5% to a 550,000 annual pace. The median price of $220,000 was down 1% compared with a year earlier.