Existing-home sales plunge
WASHINGTON — Sales of existing homes plummeted in January to the worst pace in 18 months. Cold weather, limited supplies of homes on the market and higher buying costs held back purchases.
The National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million units last month. That was down 5.1 percent from the December pace. The sales rate declined 5.1 percent over the previous 12 months.
Higher mortgage rates and higher prices have contributed to a slowdown in home buying in five of the past six months. Freezing temperatures and snowstorms have also caused most housing activity to slip this winter. The flagging sales suggest a deceleration from the momentum for much of 2013, when 5.09 million homes were sold, the most in seven years.
“Such a picture confirms that the U.S. housing market reached its peak at the end of 2013 and further reacceleration is unlikely near term,” Annalisa Piazza of Newedge Strategy said in a research note.
Home building dipped 16 percent in January from December, the Commerce Department said this week. Signed contracts to buy homes plunged in December, foreshadowing the January drop-off, the Realtors said in a separate report.
The weather has kept would-be buyers from venturing to open houses, while construction crews have endured work stoppages.
But sales also declined in parts of the country where weather was less of a factor. This suggested that price pressures and tight inventories are also weighing on the real estate market.
Buying fell 7.3 percent in Western states, the region less affected by winter storms and where average prices are the highest. That decline was significantly larger than in the Northeast, South and Midwest. The median price of homes in the West is $273,500, almost double the median price in the Midwest.
The median price nationwide has risen 10.7 percent to $188,900 since January 2013. There are just 4.9 months of available inventory on the market, a sign that would-be buyers have relatively few homes to pick from and may choose to delay purchases.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shift in what powers the grid raises concerns about fuel diversity
- Protesters refuse to pay back education loans
- Highmark lays off nearly 100 workers, mostly in IT, as membership declines
- ‘Shark Tank’ companies have change of heart
- Easier home loan rules worry some
- Unruly photo collection? Get it under control with organizing program
- Severance tax on natural gas drilling backed by Pa. voters
- Toyota Mirai to run on hydrogen fuel cells, widen green-vehicle divide
- Women encouraged to become engineers
- Mylan closes $5.3B tax-lowering deal with Abbott Labs
- Free-market thinker Hall to lead Congressional Budget Office