WASHINGTON (February 21, 2013)

Existing-home sales edged up in January, while a seller’s market is developing and home prices continue to rise steadily above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales rose in every region but the West, which is the region most constrained by limited inventory.

Total existing-home sales1, 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.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said tight inventory is a major factor in the market. “Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady,” he said. “In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.”

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 supply2 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.

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