U.S. home sales plunge 4.9 percent in January

U.S. home sales hit a snow drift in January, plunging to the slowest pace in nine months.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes tumbled 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million. That brings sales down to their lowest level since April 2014.

Relatively low mortgage rates and steady job growth have yet to spur more activity from buyers and sellers, raising the possibility of either a spring sales rush or a second straight year of numbness in the real estate market. Few properties are being listed for sale, would-be buyers are holding off on purchases, and snowstorms are cutting into traffic at open houses.

Median home prices increased 6.2 percent over the past 12 months to $199,600.

In the South, home sales decreased 4.6 percent in January and the median price was $171,900, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.

Observer staff writer Katherine Peralta contributed.