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WASHINGTON — U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years, a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping bolster the economy.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales rose 0.4 percent in January compared with December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. That was the second-highest sales pace since November, 2009, when a temporary home buyer tax credit had boosted sales.
The median price for a home sold in January was $173,600, a 12.3 percent increase from a year ago.
In the Toledo metro area, 507 units sold in January, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors. That’s up 25 percent from the 404 that sold in January, 2011.
“It’s probably a carryover from the good year we had last year. We had good traction last year,” said Brad Crown of Re/Max Central Group, the president of the Toledo Board of Realtors. “I was hoping that the success we had last year would carry over to January, and those numbers would show that it has to a certain extent.”
The average price locally was $98,178, an increase of 10 percent from the same month a year earlier.
“With an increase in demand usually comes an increase in price,” Mr. Crown said. “I’m quite surprised the [price] increase was that high actually, but it’s good to see.”
Nationally, analysts say purchases would be higher if more homes were available. The supply of homes for sale dropped to nearly an eight-year low in January.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, said sellers normally begin listing homes in February in advance of the spring buying season.
However, Mr. Yun said this increase might not be enough to alleviate the tight supply.
The inventory of homes for sale is 25.3 percent below the level a year ago.