After a slight decline last month, existing home sales, released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), surged to near two-year high in December.
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in December, the highest level since February 2018. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 10.8% higher than a year ago.
The first-time buyer share slightly decreased to 31% in December from 32% last month and a year ago. The December inventory decreased to 1.40 million units from 1.64 million units in November and 1.53 million units a year ago. At the current sales rate, the December unsold inventory represents a 3.0-month supply, down from a 3.7-month supply last month and a year ago. Unsold inventory has dropped for seven consecutive months.
Homes stayed on the market for an average of 41 days in December, up from 38 days last month but down from 46 days a year ago. In December, 43% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.
The December all-cash sales shared 20% of transactions, unchanged from last month and down slightly from 22% a year ago.
The December median sales price of all existing homes was $274,500, up 7.8% from a year ago, representing the 94th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median existing condominium/co-op price of $255,400 in December was up 6.0% from a year ago.
Regionally, all regions saw an increase in existing home sales in December except for the Midwest, compared to previous month. Sales in the Midwest declined 1.5% from last month. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose in all four major regions, ranging from 8.8% in the Northeast to 12.4% in the South.
Though the housing market has been lifted this year by lower mortgage rates and continuing job expansion, the growth has also been curbed by low housing inventory and elevated home prices. As economic conditions are expected to remain favorable for homebuyers, more inventory is needed for further home building gains in 2020.