Existing Sales Year-End Sprint


Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), increased 0.7% in November for a third consecutive monthly increase, and reached the highest pace since February 2007. November sales were up 15.4% from the same month a year ago. Total existing home sales in November increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.61 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, up from a downwardly adjusted 5.57 million units in October.

November existing sales surged 8.0% in the Northeast, and were up 1.4% in the South. November sales decreased by 1.6% in the West and 2.2% in the Midwest. Year-over-year increases were robust in November, including 19.0% in the West, 18.8% in the Midwest, 15.7% in the Northeast and 11.6% in the South.

Total housing inventory decreased significantly by 8.0% in November, and is 9.3% lower than its level a year ago. At the current sales rate, the November unsold inventory represents a 4.0-month supply, compared to a 4.3-month supply in October.

The November all-cash sales share decreased to 21% from 22% in October, and was down from 27% one year ago. Individual investors purchased a 12% share in November, down from 13% in October and 16% a year ago. Some 58% of investors paid cash in November, the lowest rate since August 2009. The first-time home buyer share was 32% in November, down a point from 33% in October, but above the first-time buyer share of 30% in November 2015. Distressed sales, comprised of foreclosures and short sales, increased to 6% in November from 5% in October, but the share was down compared to 9% a year ago.

The November median sales price of $234,900 was 6.8% above the same month a year ago, and represents the 57th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median condominium/co-op price increased to $222,600 and is up 5.8% from the same month a year ago.

Pending sales increased only slightly last month, but the anticipation of higher mortgage rates spurred sales at the end of the year. Builders continue to address the low inventory of homes. Builder sentiment also closed the year on a high note, and both jobs and incomes are growing. These positive reports suggest a steady upward path for existing sales.

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