Existing-home sales including single family residences, condominiums,
townhomes, and co-ops continued to move downward in January, as did their median
prices according to the monthly survey released on Monday by the National Association
Preliminary January figures indicate that existing homes sold at a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 4,890,000 units, down 0.4 percent from the upwardly
revised December figure of 4,910,000. The January figure was 23.4 percent below
the 6,380,000 sales pace in January of 2007.
, NAR chief economist, said many potential buyers
remain on the sidelines. "Subprime loans and other risky mortgage products
have virtually disappeared from the marketplace, and over the past five months,
this has been reflected in soft but fairly stable home sales. As the increased
limits for FHA and conventional loans are implemented," he said, "more
buyers will have access to safer FHA loans and lower interest rate loans in
high-cost areas, which could lead to steadily higher home sales later in the
The median existing-home price for all housing types was $201,100
in January. This was 4.6 percent lower than one year ago (NAR does not report
price changes on a month to month basis as it is felt such figures are not reliable.)
In January 2007 the median price was $210,900.
NAR's press release stated that there is a "downward pull"
to the national median price from a year ago because of a deterioration of sales
in higher priced areas. However, roughly half of the metropolitan areas in the
U.S. are showing year-over-year price increases.
NAR President Richard Gaylord urged prompt and full implementation of the new
loan limits for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He said some buyers in high-cost
areas are waiting for higher limits on conventional loans. "Keep in mind
the biggest slowdown in home sales last year was in high-cost markets, which
were hard-hit by the credit crunch and notably higher interest rates for jumbo
loans, but relief is on the way."
He said, "once buyers have greater access to higher
loan limits, it will take a few months for increased shopping activity to
translate into higher sales. We should see some movement of pent-up demand by
At the end of January there were a total of 4,190,000 million existing homes
available for sale, up 5.5 percent from the 3,974,000 on the market in December.
The January number represents a 10.3-month supply at the current sales pace
compared to a 9.7-month supply in December. One year ago there were 3,539,000
homes on the market, a 6.7 month supply. The high for the year - 10.5
months - was in October.
Looking at the data by type of residence, single-family home sales rose 0.5
percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.34 million in January from
4.32 million in December, but this was 22.4 percent below the 5.59 million-unit
pace in January 2007. Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 6.5 percent
to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 550,000 units in January from 588,000
in December, and are 30.2 percent below the 788,000-unit level a year ago.
Condos faired better price wise than single family homes.
The median existing condo price was $220,400, one percent lower in January 2008
than in January 2007, while the median existing single-family home price was
$198,700 in January, down 5.1 percent from a year ago.