Existing Home Sales - down 7.2% for January 2010

Existing home sales for January 2010 are down 7.2%.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – dropped 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.05 million units in January from a revised 5.44 million in December, but remain 11.5 percent above the 4.53 million-unit level in January 2009.

They are blaming it on the extension of the home buyer's tax credits as their being a lull before the extension. But as I recall the extension was pretty smooth, it was well advertised to happen, so I'm not sure trying to blame a tax credit extension is valid. Even worse, look at the median price. Who will place bets that home prices have much further to fall? Regardless of the truth on blaming this on tax credits, obviously when the tax credits expire in April expect a large drop after!

Inventory increased to a 7.8 month supply from 7.2 in December.

On price and what type of sales:

The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $164,700 in January, unchanged from a year earlier. Distressed homes, which accounted for 38 percent of sales last month, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they typically are discounted in comparison with traditional homes in the same area.

A parallel NAR practitioner survey4 shows first-time buyers purchased 40 percent of homes in January, down from 43 percent in December. Investors accounted for 17 percent of transactions in January, up from 15 percent in December; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. The survey also shows that buyer traffic increased 9.4 percent in January.

Here's the regional data from the NAR. Boy is it becoming cheap to buy a home in the Midwest. Shame there are no jobs there, but oops, there are no jobs anywhere to support signing up for a 30 year debt commitment.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 10.9 percent to an annual pace of 820,000 in January but are 22.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $245,300, a gain of 8.8 percent from January 2009.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest declined 6.9 percent in January to a level of 1.08 million but are 8.0 percent higher than January 2009. The median price in the Midwest was $130,300, which is 1.0 percent below a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales dropped 7.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.87 million in January but are 12.0 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $140,200, down 2.0 percent from January 2009.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 5.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.28 million in January but are 7.6 percent higher than January 2009. The median price in the West was $203,400, down 5.8 percent from a year ago.

Recall existing home sales were down 16.7% last month, so we do have a trend additionally, a record low last month and this month low was not seen since 1999. (CBS Market Watch)

Calculated Risk has a host of graphs analyzing housing data.

Here's another graph from Mess That Greenspan Made:

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