Existing home sales were off to a great start for 2017 with the fastest pace seen in nearly a decade according to the National Association of Realtors. These completed transactions have increased by 3.3% up to an annual rate of 5.69 million for January. Additionally, January’s sales pace was 3.8% higher than last year in 2016.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist has expressed that these gains are indicating positive consumer confidence in our economy. “Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home,” he said. “Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions.”

The median price for all homes in January had risen by 7.1% in comparison to January of 2016. Inventory levels by the end of month had also increased by 2.4% yet this was much lower than a year ago by 7.1%. The challenging levels of available housing were most likely the cause of the average days on market decreasing by 2 days to 50.

“Competition is likely to heat up even more heading into the spring for house hunters looking for homes in the lower- and mid-market price range,” added Yun. The light inventory coupled with rising prices and interest rates will likely create a more competitive landscape in the market.

Additional breakdowns for the industry are as follows.

First time buyers made up 33% of sales in January which is a marginal uptick from a year ago at 32%. The average rate for a 30 year conventional fixed rate mortgage in 2016 was 3.65%. The month of January’s average was 4.15% which was a little lower from December’s of 4.20%.

Cash sales represented 23% of all transactions for the month of January. This was higher than December’s of 21% but lower than January of 2016 which was 26%. Finally, foreclosures and short sales were only 7% of sales for the month of January which was down 2% from January of 2015.