As the result of unusually strong winter storms, January home sales fell lower while prices continued a trend of double-digit increases, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report, a survey of multiple listing service (MLS) data in 52 metropolitan areas.
The report finds the January median home price of $173,475 was 11.6% higher than the price in January 2013 and 6.3% less than the median price in December. Winter storms that impacted many regions of the country caused numerous delays or cancellations of closings, RE/MAX notes, bringing home sales 7.1% lower than one year ago.
Still, driven by a limited inventory, the company reports that home prices rose 11.6% higher on a year-to-year basis. With the rate of sales in January, the months' supply of inventory fell to 5.3 months. On a yearly basis, the January inventory marked the 10th consecutive month with fewer losses than the previous month, according to the report.
‘We usually expect to see fewer home sales in the winter months, but January experienced particularly severe storms in a large part of the country, which disrupted appraisals, inspections and closings," remarks Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX. "However, the real story for home sales in 2014 will begin to unfold in the coming spring and summer months."
Transactions – Year-Over-Year Change
The report finds a 26.9% monthly decrease in home sales and a 7.1% decrease from January 2013 – making it the second time in the last 31 months that there has been year-to-year sales decline. Although December and January regularly record the lowest home sales of the year, of all 52 metro areas surveyed in January, 39 saw year-to-year sales decrease. Despite the weather difficulties, 13 metros did experience sales higher than last year, including Boise, Idaho (+16.1%); Burlington, Vt. (+13.2%); Raleigh and Durham, N.C. (+12.2%); Anchorage, Alaska (+11.7%); New York (+10.3%); and Providence, R.I. (+9.0%).
Median Sales Price
On a year-to-year basis, the median sales price has now increased for 24 consecutive months. Higher home prices are attributed mostly to a limited inventory supply and continuing buyer demand, says RE/MAX. Among the 52 metro areas surveyed, 45 reported higher sales prices than one year ago.
Days on Market
The average number of days on market for all homes sold in January was 75 – just two days more than the average in December, but 12 days fewer than the average in January 2013. January marks the 20th consecutive month with the average days on market below 90. The low average of the days on market is associated with continued high demand and a reduced inventory of homes for sale.
Months' Supply of Inventory
The low inventory market of 2013 continued into the first month of 2014, even though recent inventory reductions are much less than what was seen in previous months. The inventory of homes for sale in January was 5.2% less than December and 10.9% less than last January, when the year-to-year inventory loss was 28.9%.
The entire RE/MAX report can be found here.