January existing home sales rose 0.6% from December and 23.7% from January 2020, to 6.69 million (SAAR), according to the National Association of Realtors.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $303,900, up 14.1% from January 2020 ($266,300).
Total housing inventory at the end of January totaled 1.04 million units, down 1.9% from December and 25.7% from a year ago (1.40 million).
January's existing home sales figures turned the page on the best year in almost a decade and a half, marking a solid start for 2021 and setting the stage for what should be another banner year for the housing market. The factors that contributed to a surge in buyer demand in the latter half of 2020 are still very much in play in early 2021. Despite fluctuating in the early part of the month, mortgage rates spent most of January at or near record lows, and the wave of 20- and 30-somethings aging into their prime homeownership years continued to swell. These factors, combined with many buyers reconsidering their housing needs amid the pandemic, helped stoke red-hot competition for homes that became the norm in 2020, pushing prices skyward and leading homes to fly off the shelves. While the pace of monthly sales growth has slowed and steep price appreciation introduces affordability challenges for many looking to enter the market, the low-rate environment and persistent demographic shifts suggest that sales volume should remain elevated throughout 2021, especially as the economy continues to improve.