Existing home sales are off to a slow start for 2019. Sales dropped for the third-straight month in January, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). January's decline of 1.2% put the seasonally adjusted annual rate at 4.94 million, the lowest since November 2015, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
"Existing home sales in January were weak compared to historical norms; however, they are likely to have reached a cyclical low," said Yun in a release. "Moderating home prices combined with gains in household income will boost housing affordability, bringing more buyers to the market in the coming months."
Homes were also on the market longer in January compared to the month previous, an average of 49 days and an increase of three days from December and seven days from January 2018.
Existing home sales are 8.5% behind January 2018, while the median sale price is up nearly 3% year over year. The median home price grew at its slowest pace in seven years. While housing inventory increased slightly to 3.9 million, it is still lacking what is considered a balanced market (six months of inventory). "In particular, the lower end of the market is experiencing a greater shortage, and more home construction is needed," said Yun. "Taking steps to lower construction costs would be a tremendous help."
-Michael Miller, managing editor