Previously owned home sales increased in January as the market was active through the generally slower winter period and the shortage of homes for sale continued to drive home prices higher.
Existing home sales rose 0.6% in January from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million, the National Association of Realtors said on Friday. January sales marked an increase of 23.7% over the previous year.
Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 2.4% monthly drop in sales of previously owned homes, which make up the bulk of the housing market.
Home sales rose in 2020 to the highest level since 2006 as historically low interest rates spurred demand and buyers sought more space. While winter is typically a slower period for home sales, economists say the pandemic disrupted normal seasonal patterns by driving home purchases that would have occurred the spring and summer past the fall and winter.
“The housing market is still very strong,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “Sales could be even higher, but inventory is just not there.”