Increased demand from investors and first-time homebuyers helped boost existing-home sales in January -- the third increase in the past four months, the National Association of Realtors reported.NAR said total existing-home sales -- including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops -- were up 4.3 percent from December to January, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million.While that's essentially unchanged from the same time a year ago, for-sale inventory was down 20.6 percent from a year ago, to 2.31 million homes, a 6.1-month supply of homes at the current pace of sales.Many housing analysts view a six-month inventory of homes as a good balance between supply and demand -- a larger inventory of homes can indicate an oversupply of homes for sale, which can undermine prices. When inventories drop below six months, the shortage of homes for sale can drive up prices."The broad inventory condition can be described as moving into a rough balance, not ...
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