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Existing-home sales increased by nearly 7% between December and January, hitting a seasonally-adjusted, annual rate of 6.5 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. Compared to a year ago, sales were down more than 2%. Unsold inventory dropped to a 1.6-month supply in January, representing a record low. A balanced market is indicated by a 6-month supply of homes. The supply imbalance is contributing to the higher median prices being reported. As of January, the median sales price for an existing home was up 15% on an annual basis to $350,300. According to National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, the inventory of homes priced at or below $500,000 has dwindled, while supplies of more expensive homes remain more robust.

 

The U.S. leading economic index fell 0.3% in January owing to a surge in omicron cases, high inflation and persistent supply-chain disruptions.  The decline in the index was the first since last spring.  The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys. Despite this month’s decline … widespread strengths among the leading indicators still point to continued, albeit slower, economic growth into the spring.

 

As mortgage rates jumped, millions of borrowers raced to lock in rates in January, according to a new report. Nationwide, rate locks rose 9.5% from December after four months of declines.  Driven by a 19.9% increase in purchase loans and a 9.2% rise in cash-outs refinances.  The report underscores how quickly the mortgage rate landscape has changed for homeowners and buyers, who now must act fast to secure low rates.

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