Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Sales of existing homes in the United States fell by 1.3 percent last month, the National Association of Realtors said in its monthly report Friday.
The report noted an annualized rate of 5.46 million homes, which was similar to the figure in December. The January figure, though, was a 9.6 percent increase over January 2019.
"Existing-home sales are off to a strong start at 5.46 million," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "The trend line for housing starts is increasing and showing steady improvement, which should ultimately lead to more home sales. Mortgage rates have helped with affordability, but it is supply conditions that are driving price growth."
The median price for existing single-family homes last month was $268,600, a 6.9 percent increase over the last 12 months.
Total inventory, the supply of homes offered for sale relative to the homes purchased, was 3.42 million units at the end of January -- the lowest mark since 1999. A quarterly NAR report last week said the majority of U.S. urban areas saw price gains and marginal increases in inventory in the final quarter of 2019.