January existing home sales were up 0.4 percent to an annual rate of 4.92 million units.
This beat expectations of a 0.8 percent decline to 4.90 million unit.
December's existing home sales were revised down to 4.90 million rate.
"Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady," said Lawrence Yun chief economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in a press release. "In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We've transitioned into a seller's market in much of the country."
Total housing inventory at the end of January declined 4.9 percent to 1.74 million existing homes available for sale, which means it would take 4.2 months to sell inventory at the current sales pace.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in January, up 12.3 percent from a year ago, which is the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. This is also the biggest gain since November 2005 when home prices were up 12.9 percent.
What's more the median time that homes spent on the market was 71 days, down from 73 in December and 28.3 percent lower than 99 days a year ago.
Moreover, distressed homes accounted for 23 percent of sales in January, down from 24 percent the previous month.
A breakdown by region showed that existing home sales grew everywhere but the west where they fell 5.7 percent to a pace of 1.15 million.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) measure of resales includes previously constructed homes, condominium, and co-ops in which a sale closed during the month.
Existing home sales account for a larger share of the market than new homes, according to Bloomberg. And existing and new home sales began to pick up in 2012 but the latter has increased at a slower pace.
More to come...
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