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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 months’ 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 – 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 consumers’ “tremendous resilience” and desire for homeownership, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

But Yun said he was “very disappointed” with the recent Fannie Mae decision to securitize Wall Street investor purchases of single-family homes for rental. As inventory for sale remains strained, that’s “bad policy,” he said.

The Realtors also suggest that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are enjoying “record profits,” consider reducing the guarantee fees they charge, a cost which is passed on to buyers.

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