Existing Sales Surge 5.6% in November


November existing sales embraced an end of the year rally, increasing 5.6% to the highest level since December 2006; but the first-time buyer share of 29% continued to disappoint. The National Association of Realtors reported 44% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month, a slightly slower pace than the 47% last month. The November inventory decreased 7.2%, and is 9.7% below the level a year ago, having decreased for the 30th consecutive month. At the current sales rate, the November unsold inventory represents a 3.4-month supply, compared to a 3.9-month supply last month and 4.0 months a year ago.  November existing sales reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.81 million units, up from an upwardly revised 5.50 million units last month. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

November existing sales increased 8.4% in the Midwest, 8.3% in the South and 6.7% in the Northeast, while decreasing 2.3% in the West. Year-over-year, existing sales increased by 6.8% in the Midwest, 4.0% in the South and 2.5% in the West, but remained unchanged in the Northeast.

Homes stayed on the market for 40 days in November, up from 34 days in October, but down from 43 days a year ago.

The November all-cash sales share was 22%, up from 20% in October and 21% a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 14% share in November, up from 13% in October and unchanged from a year ago.

The November median sales price of $248,000 was up 5.8% from a year ago, representing the 69th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The November median condominium/co-op price increased to $242,500 and was up 8.8% from a year ago.

Pending home sales rebounded in October, so the increase in existing sales was not unexpected. To meet the inventory shortages and escalating home prices, NAR stated that the increase in homebuilder optimism must translate to significantly more new construction in 2018. Single-family starts were up 5.3% in November, and are almost 9% ahead of last year. Personal income gains and jobs will continue to spur more gains by first-time buyers into the housing market.

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