by Bill McBride on 2/21/2013
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.
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 2 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.
Sales in January 2013 (4.92 million SAAR) were 0.4% higher than last month, and were 9.1% above the January 2012 rate.
According to the NAR, inventory declined to 1.74 million in January down from 1.83 million in December. This is the lowest level of inventory since December 1999. Inventory is not seasonally adjusted, and usually inventory decreases from the seasonal high in mid-summer to the seasonal lows in December and January.
The last graph shows the year-over-year (YoY) change in reported existing home inventory and months-of-supply. Since inventory is not seasonally adjusted, it really helps to look at the YoY change. Note: Months-of-supply is based on the seasonally adjusted sales and not seasonally adjusted inventory.
Months of supply declined to 4.2 months in January, the lowest level since April 2005.
This was at expectations of sales of 4.94 million. For existing home sales, the key number is inventory – and the sharp year-over-year decline in inventory is a positive for housing. I’ll have more later …