The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported this morning that existing home sales rose by 2.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million units in October, compared with an downwardly revised 4.69 million units in September. Analysts had been expecting a rate of 4.8 million units.
The NAR’s chief economist noted:
Home sales continue to trend up and most October transactions were completed by the time the storm hit, but the growing demand with limited inventory is pressuring home prices in much of the country. We expect an impact on Northeastern home sales in the coming months from a pause and delays in storm-impacted regions.
Total housing inventory stood at 2.14 million existing homes at the end of September, down 1.4% from 2.32 million in September. The total represents a 5.4-month supply at the pace of sales, down 21.9% from October 2011 and the lowest inventory number since February 2006
Distressed sales accounted for 24% of October sales, a decrease from 28% of October 2011 sales and unchanged from September. Foreclosed properties sold for a discount of 20% in September, and short sales were discounted 14%.
The nationwide median price for an existing home sale was $178,600, up 11.1% from October 2011, but $5.300 lower than September’s median price of $183,900.
At the same time, the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) released its housing market index today, which measures builders’ confidence in the market for new single-family homes. The index rose from 41 in October to 46, its highest reading since May 2006. A reading of 50 indicates that equal numbers of builders are either optimistic or pessimistic regarding sales conditions.
The declining inventory of existing homes for sale and the rise in builder confidence indicates that the housing recovery continues, but that growth is slow.