November Existing-Home Sales Rise for Second Straight Month

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing-home sales in November rose by 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.32 million from a total of 5.22 million in October. This is the second consecutive index increase following six months of consecutive losses.

The consensus estimate called for November sales to reach 5.22 million, according to a survey of economists polled by Bloomberg. Total sales in 2016 came in at 5.45 million, surpassing 2015’s total of 5.25 million as the most sales since 2006, when 6.48 million homes were sold.

The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said:

The market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago. Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.

Existing-home sales closed 2017 at around 5.51 million. Yun has forecast existing-home sales to decline by 3.1% in 2018 to 5.34 million.

Housing inventory decreased by 5.9% in November to 1.74 million homes, equal to a supply of 3.9 months, down by 0.4 months compared with October. Inventory is up from 3.5 months year over year in November 2017.

According to the NAR, the national median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $257,700, up 4.2% compared with November 2017, the 81st consecutive month of rising home prices. In October the national median price was $255,400.

The percentage of first-time buyers rose from 31% in October to 33%, also a gain from 29% in November 2017. For all of 2017, first-time buyers accounted for 34% of sales.

Sales of single-family homes increased from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in October to 4.71 million in November and are down 6.7% compared with November 2017. Sales of multifamily homes rose 1.7% month over month in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units.

All homes were on the market for an average of 42 days in November, up by six days month over month and up from 40 days in November 2017. Foreclosure (2%) and short (1%) sales accounted for 3% of all October sales, unchanged compared with the prior month and down from 4% in October 2017. The percentage of distressed sales (foreclosures plus short sales) fell to 2%, its lowest level since the NAR began tracking it in October 2008.

The NAR also reported the following regional data:

November existing-home sales in the Northeast rose by 7.2% to an annual rate of 740,000 and were down 2.6% compared with November 2017 sales. The median price in the Northeast was $291,400, up 6.5% compared with the same month last year.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 5.5% last month to an annual rate of 1.34 million and remain down 4.3% compared with the November 2017 rate. The median price in the Midwest was $199,100, up 2.6% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South rose 2.3% in November to an annual rate of 2.2 million but are down 5.6% compared to November 2017 sales. The median price in the South was $223,600, up 3.2% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West decreased by 6.3% to an annual rate of 1.04 million in November and are down 15.4% compared with November 2017 totals. The median price in the West was $380,600, up 1.8% compared with the November 2017 median.

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