- Existing home sales rose a slight 0.4% between December and January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.
- January's rate marked a six-month high, as all U.S. regions saw sales gains in January, with the exception of the West.
- The median existing-home price in January was $213,800 — 8.2% higher than the same time last year. January, which marked the 47th consecutive month of year-over-year gains in existing-home prices, also saw the largest month-to-month price increase since April 2015.
January's results beat expectations, as economists had predicted existing home sales would slip 2.5% in January to an annualized rate of 5.32 million, according to Business Insider.
The NAR also reported that share of first-time buyers held steady at 32% in January for the second-straight month — and 4% higher than in January 2015. In 2015 as a whole, first-time buyer share averaged 30%, up from 29% during the previous two years.
That slight rise in first-time buyers is the first hint that the coveted segment could be slowly testing the homeownership waters.
Despite the positive January results overall, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun cautioned that lack of supply is still a major concern and is causing the steep rise in prices. "The housing market has shown promising resilience in recent months, but home prices are still rising too fast because of ongoing supply constraints," he said in a release.
Aside from the slight gain in existing home sales, housing market reports for this month have been mostly disappointing so far. Homebuilder confidence slipped three points to a score of 58, and housing starts unexpectedly slipped 3.8% in January. New home sales results will be released Wednesday, followed by pending sales on Feb. 29.