It’s true; January sales are rising for the 3rd consecutive month, meaning that the uptrend for existing-home sales is continuing. The numbers are now at a pace above what they were a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This was the first time in seven months that the sales were up from the previous year’s level.

It’s believed that the improvement is good but it could be better. The trend is consistent with the improvements in the economy and the increased number of jobs, “but buyers have been constrained by unnecessarily tight credit. As a result, there are abnormally high levels of all-cash purchases, along with rising investor activity,” according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

January 2010 December 2010 January 2011
Seasonally adjusted annual rate 5.09 Million 5.22 Million 5.36 Million
First-time buyers 40% (extended tax credit in place) 33% 29%
Investor Purchases 17% 20% 23%
Distressed Homes 38% 36% 37%
30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage 5.03 4.71 4.76
Single-family Home sales 4.47 Million 4.58 Million 4.69 Million
Condominium and Co-op Sales annual rate 621,000 640,000 670,000

Existing-Home Sales by Region:

Northeast – Fell 4.6% in Jan. Median housing price – $236,500, 4% below a year ago

South – Increased 3.6% in Jan. Median housing price – $126,600, 2.1% below a year ago

West – Increased 1.8% in Jan. Median housing price – $193,200, 5.7% down from a year ago

Midwest –Increased 7.9% in Jan. Median housing price – $126,300, 3.2% below a year ago

Information taken from The National Association Of Realtors (http://www.realtor.org/)