When the numbers are right, there’s no good reason anymore to wait for planets to align. And this February, the numbers are finally right.
Sales of condominiums, co-ops, townhomes, and single-family homes nudged up 0.4 percent in January, posting a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 from a revised 4.90 million (it was originally 4.94 million) in December. Sales did much better; it climbed 9.1 percent above the 4.51 million-unit posted one year earlier, signaling a continuous housing recovery.
Meanwhile, sales of single-family homes, stepped up to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.34 million from 4.33 million in December, up by 0.2 percent. The figure represents an 8.5 percent improvement, a significant one, over the 4.00 million-unit level in January 2012. Meanwhile, existing condominium and co-op sales caught the wave, too, and climbed 1.8 percent to 580,000 from its December level of 570,000. It’s a 13.7 percent improvement from last year’s figure, which ended at the 510,000-unit level in the same month.
What all that means, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), is a seller’s market is gathering on the real estate horizon, as home prices continue to sustain their climb and home sales continue to edge up from last year’s figures. Sales in January, notes NAR, grew in all regions but one, the West, which was hamstrung by inadequate inventories. Still, it’s very good news for real estate agents, whether they’re just starting and still completing their real estate CE, such as the online training courses provided by 360training.com, or are veteran real estate professionals.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun explains that a constricted inventory exerts a significant effect on the market. He explains that although buyer traffic continues to build (it’s 40 percent better than a year ago) and seller traffic is not deflating, the market isn’t where it should be at this stage of the housing recovery because of insufficient inventory. Still, Yun reveals that there is demand strength. “We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country,” he confirms.
NAR reports that the total housing inventory lost 4.9 percent at
the end of January ending up with 1.74 million existing homes, which represents a 4.2-month supply, given the prevailing sales rate. In December of last year, that figure was 4.5 months. NAR points out that 4.2 months equals the lowest housing supply since April 2005, when it was also 4.2 months. Listed inventory is 25.3 percent lower than a year ago (when it was at 6.2 months). For raw unsold inventory, you have to go back beyond December 1999 to find a level lower than the current value of 1.71 million homes.