Kelly Leighton

Last Updated: March 1, 2018 | View all posts by Kelly Leighton

For the second month, home sales decreased across the country.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, home sales were down 3.2 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million, down from 5.56 million in December 2017. The median existing home price for homes was $240,500, an increase of 5.8 percent from the previous January, when the median was $227,300. This is the 71st month of year-to-year increases.

“The utter lack of sufficient housing supply and its influence on higher home prices muted overall sales activity in much of the U.S. last month,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said. “While the good news is that Realtors® in most areas are saying buyer traffic is even stronger than the beginning of last year, sales failed to follow course and far lagged last January’s pace. It’s very clear that too many markets right now are becoming less affordable and desperately need more new listings to calm the speedy price growth.”

Housing inventory did rise by the end of January to 1.52 million existing homes for sale, an increase of 4.1 percent. However, existing homes on the market are down 9.5 percent compared to January 2017, when there were 1.68 million homes on the market. Inventory continues to decrease, this is the 32nd month inventory has seen year-to-year drops. The average time on the market in January was 42 days, up two days from December, but down eight days year-to-year. More than 40 percent of homes on the market were sold in less than one month.

This reflects the results of PAR’s recent Welcome Home survey. Pennsylvania homebuyers reported that it took less than three months for half of the homebuyers to find a home – that’s from the time they began searching until the time they closed. In addition, the Pennsylvania survey showed that buyers over the age of 65 were even more likely to buy a home in less than three months. Twenty-five percent of them said their home purchase took less than a month.

Across the country, first-time buyers represented 29 percent of sales for January, down 3 percent month-to-month and 4 percent year-to-year.