Existing Home Sales

 Existing home sales have risen in three of the past four months, but unseasonably warm weather during the normally slow winter months has helped boost activity and has likely brought some sales forward. Moreover, the milder weather tends to exacerbate the seasonality thereby lifting sales to higher levels than would normally occur. That said, distressed transactions still make up a significant proportion of total sales at 35 percent and will continue to put downward pressure on home prices. In January, the median price of a single-family home was down 2.6 percent on a year-ago basis. Other obstacles still abound for existing home sales, including the vast number of canceled contracts, excess supply of existing homes and shadow inventory. One encouraging sign is that investors are still active in many of the long-depressed markets with all-cash transactions accounting for 23 percent of sales in January.