"Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory,” Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist said. “With a downtrend in the number of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges, values are beginning to firm but with great variance around the country.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $164,700 in January, unchanged from a year earlier. Distressed homes, which accounted for 38% of sales last month, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they typically are discounted in comparison with traditional homes in the same area.
A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 40% of homes in January, down from 43% in December. Investors accounted for 17% of transactions in January, up from 15% in December; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. The survey also shows that buyer traffic increased 9.4% in January."