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January home sales send mixed signals across the country 

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Posted at 3:47 PM, Feb 21, 2023

Home sales across the United States fell for the twelfth straight month in January, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors.

It’s a mixed picture as the south and western areas of the country are seeing increases while the East and Midwest are seeing declines.

Nationally, sales for existing single-family homes fell just under 1% in January compared to a month earlier, according to the Realtors’ group.

“Home sales are bottoming out,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors said in a statement. “Prices vary depending on a market’s affordability, with lower priced regions witnessing modest growth and more expensive regions witnessing declines.”

The Growth Areas 

The adage of “location, location, location,” applies in this uneven market. Real estate is local and its volatility depends on the local economy.

In Denver, home sales fell 33% in January due to inventory shortages, according to the real estate guide Redfin. Prices rose slightly at .8% with the median price now at $531,000

In Bergen County, New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan, the median home price rose 1.5% in January to $559,000. The bidding wars are back due to the lack of inventory and buyers realizing prices are not going to drop in the New York City suburb, said Max Stokes, an agent with Compass Real Estate of New Jersey.

As of Tuesday, the average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage for people with good credit was 6.85%, according to BankRate.com. That’s more than double what it was in January 2022.

Even as inventory remains low across much of the country, buyers now have more negotiating power, Yun said.

“Homes sitting on the market for more than 60 days can be purchased for around 10% less than the original list price,” Yun said.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to say Denver home sales, not prices, fell 33%.