MW: Existing-home sales soar to a 10-year high in January despite higher rates, leaner supply
Sales of previously-owned homes hurtled to the highest in a decade in January, a sign of durable demand in the face of higher mortgage rates and leaner supply.
Existing-home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.69 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That was 3.3% above an upwardly-revised 5.51 million in December and 3.8% higher than a year ago.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 5.55 million rate in January.
There were 3.6 monthsâ€™ worth of homes available for sale in January, the 20th consecutive month in which inventory declined on a yearly basis. Homes available for sale declined 7.1% compared to a year ago â€“ even as prices spiked 7.1% higher. The median price was $228,900.
Most regions had sales increases in January. The one exception was in the Midwest, where sales dropped 1.5%.
Strong sales in the face of challenging headwinds shows consumersâ€™ â€śtremendous resilienceâ€ť and desire for homeownership, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
But Yun said he was â€śvery disappointedâ€ť with the recent Fannie Mae decision to securitize Wall Street investor purchases of single-family homes for rental. As inventory for sale remains strained, thatâ€™s â€śbad policy,â€ť he said.
The Realtors also suggest that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are enjoying â€śrecord profits,â€ť consider reducing the guarantee fees they charge, a cost which is passed on to buyers.