WASHINGTON (AFP) – US existing-home sales slowed to their lowest pace in nine months in January, despite very low mortgage interest rates, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.
Total sales of used homes fell 4.9 per cent from December to an annual rate of 4.82 million units, with the fall in both the single-family unit category and in condominiums.
Sales were 3.2 per cent higher than a year earlier, but January 2014 was marked by a sharp downturn in economic activity when wide swaths of the eastern half of the country endured repeated severe winter storms.
“January housing data can be volatile because of seasonal influences,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
“But low housing supply and the ongoing rise in home prices above the pace of inflation appeared to slow sales despite interest rates remaining near historic lows.”
Total inventory of used houses for sale increased slightly in the month, and unsold inventory equalled a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace.
The median price for an existing home was $199,600, 6.2 per cent more than in January 2014.
Jennifer Lee of BMO Capital Markets called it “clearly a disappointing report.”
“There were fewer sales of singles (-5.1 per cent) and condos (-3.5 per cent) although the former is still above levels a year ago.”