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January home sales tick up as prices rise

New data from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors showed monthly home sales in January increased 0.4 percent compared to January 2016 as the rate of growth slowed. But the pipeline of activity for the next month or two picked up steam, as did prices.

The tally of completed deals in January rose to 789 – an increase of only three transactions from the same period in 2016. That's not a significant gain, but it's still at or above the high for January since at least 2000.

On the other hand, pending sales – in which a contract has been signed, but is not yet final – rose 8.9 percent in January to 829 deals compared to the same month a year ago. That's a new record for January during the last 17 years.

And the median price in January – which means half sold for more and half for less – jumped 6.7 percent to $128,000 compared to January 2016. That's the highest for January in at least 18 years.

The booming market may be spurring more potential sellers to get off the fence. New listings were up 2.2 percent to 1,054 in January, the highest level for the month in four years, and the most for any month since October.

Even so, the inventory isn't keeping up, falling 32.5 percent from a year ago, to 3,010 homes available for sale on the market.

That shortage of supply is continuing to drive demand and pricing higher. The average sales price in January rose 2.7 percent to $143,268. That's below the peak average of nearly $149,000 in 2014, but is still significantly higher than historic levels.

BNAR reports arms-length transactions involving its Realtor members in the eight-county region of Western New York, plus a handful of sales in Monroe and Livingston counties. The group issues its report more than 30 days after the month ends.

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