National Home Sales Reports for 2012
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 2:41PM
Bonnie Beddall in Market Update

NATIONAL HOMES SALES REPORTS FOR 2012

WASHINGTON (February 21, 2013) - Existing-home sales edged up in January, while a seller's market is developing and home prices continue to rise steadily above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales rose in every region but the West, which is the region most constrained by limited inventory.

Total existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million in January from a downwardly revised 4.90 million in December, and are 9.1 percent above the 4.51 million-unit pace in January 2012.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said tight inventory is a major factor in the market. "Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady," he said. "In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We've transitioned into a seller's market in much of the country."

Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 4.9 percent to 1.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.2 month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.5 months in December, and is the lowest housing supply since April 2005 when it was also 4.2 months.

Listed inventory is 25.3 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.2-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since December 1999 when there were 1.71 million homes on the market.

"We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring (2013), but it may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth," Yun explained.

In a earlier article: NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in his national press conference in Washington to release the association’s latest sales figures says inventory shortages are cropping up in markets across the country. Although that’s good for home price gains in the short-term, in the long-term it’s a negative that reflects weak home construction by builders. Ideally, supply growth will increase to provide a healthy counterbalance to demand so prices can rise at a sustainable pace.

In any case, due to the steady price gains homeowners have seen, total home owner equity has risen by $760 billion as of October 2012. Should home prices rise 5 percent for the year (2012), equity gains could reach $1 trillion by year’s end, a healthy development for the economy, Yun says.

Article originally appeared on Seattle's Best Real Estate (http://seattlesbestrealestate.com/).
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