A 3.3 percent growth and 10-year high in existing-home sales started 2017 off with the fastest gains seen since February 2007. According to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), every region but the Midwest saw increases and total sales reached 5.69 million.
According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, “Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved customer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home… The housing market is off to a prosperous start…” The report indicates that the Western states enjoyed the largest percent increase in existing-home sales with a 6.6 percent increase in January and a new median existing-home price of $332,300.
The median existing-home price rose once again in January to $228,900, a 7.1 percent increase over this time last year. The median price for condominium and single-family home prices also grew to $217,400, accounting for a 6.2 increase over 2016.
The NAR report also shows that existing-home inventory grew to 1.69 million, a 2.4 percent increase. However, inventory is still 7.1 percent lower than one year ago. Existing homes are selling faster, with an average of 50 days on the market, down from 64 days in 2016.
First-time homebuyers made up 33 percent of existing-home sales in January. Yun continues, “Competition is likely to heat up even more heading into the spring for house hunters looking for homes in the lower- and mid-market price range. NAR and realtor.com’s new ongoing research… revealed that the combination of higher rates and prices led to households in over half of all states last month being able to afford less of all active inventory on the market based on their income.”