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This morning’s news flash on my iPhone was:

“Existing-home sales slow to 9-month low in January”

As always, the headline is a little more dramatic than the actual news. It’s true that home sales in January slowed from December and fewer homes were sold than in any month for the previous nine months. HOWEVER, the pace of sales was higher than a year ago for the fourth straight month. So, sales are really a bit better than they were a year ago.

Total existing-home sales are completed transactions of previously sold homes (in contrast with new homes) that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. The data is compiled by the National Association of Realtors®.

One of the two regions experiencing the largest decline in sales was “The West,” including Arizona, in spite of good weather in January.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, attributed the relatively poor showing to high prices and low inventory. Continued low interest rates should be offsetting the relatively modest price increases. NAR’s press release also blamed continued tight credit conditions for keeping would-be homebuyers out of the market. Yun has been offering the same reasons for slow sales for months.

First-time homebuyers accounted for a smaller share of purchases in January than in any month since June 2014. Without first-time homebuyers, move-up buyers are stranded in their existing homes. Here’s the most succinct explanation for what’s really going on:

 “Today a somewhat softer-than-expected report is a further sign that housing is still struggling to gain altitude although we expect further signs of recovery in the next two to three years as the improving job market encourages more first-time buyers,” said Peter Buchanan, an economist at CIBC World Markets.

To buy or sell a Flagstaff home, and get the real lowdown on the Flagstaff real estate market, contact The Elite Team at RE/MAX Peak Properties.