Mixed results for home sales
Sales of existing homes increased 0.4% from December to January, the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. Sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million last month, up from a downwardly revised 5.45 million. Over the year, existing-home sales jumped by 11%.
The median price for existing homes for all housing types -- single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops -- was $213,800, which is 8.2% higher than the January 2015 median price. Housing inventory increased 3.4% month over month but is down 2.2% compared with a year ago. There was a 4-month supply of existing homes for sale at the end of January.
New home sales plunged nearly 10% from December to January and were down 5.2% from January 2015, according to data released Wednesday from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The median sales price was $278,800, while the average sales price was $365,700.
A slowdown in new home sales is expected because January is usually a slow month, still the census data came as somewhat of a surprise, says Brett Sinnott, vice president of capital markets for CMG Financial in San Ramon, California.
"It was more of a surprise just because interest rates have fallen so low right after the Fed increase," he says, referring to the Federal Reserve's decision to raise the federal funds rate in December.
Ready to refi?
Mortgage applications fell by 4.3% last week compared with the week prior, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey. The results include an adjustment for the Presidents Day holiday.
The unadjusted purchase index was down 4%, though it was 27% higher than the same week in 2015.
Although it's likely that rates will stay low for a while, current homeowners should be proactive about getting a better deal on their loan before lenders become extremely busy in the near future, says Dave Norris, executive vice president of retail at loanDepot in Foothill Ranch, California.
"It's a great time to refi; rates haven't been this low in years," he says.
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