Existing home sales slip in November
However, the closely watched housing metric showed improvement over the prior-year figure.
Existing-home sales fell in November, taking a small step back after October’s gains, according to a Thursday morning report from the National Association of Realtors. The Northeast and Midwest both reported growth last month, while the South and West saw sales decline.
The release followed a rosy Commerce Department residential construction report, posted Dec. 17.
Total existing-home sales, defined as completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 1.7% from October to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in November. However, sales are up 2.7% from a year ago (5.21 million in November 2018).Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said the decline in sales for November is not a cause for worry.
“Sales will be choppy when inventory levels are low, but the economy is otherwise performing very well with more than 2 million job gains in the past year,” said Yun.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $271,300, up 5.4% from November 2018 ($257,400), as prices rose in all regions. November’s price increase marks 93 straight months of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of November totaled 1.64 million units, down approximately 7.3% from October and 5.7% from one year ago (1.74 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 3.7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.9 months in October and from the 4.0-month figure recorded in November 2018. Unsold inventory totals have declined for five consecutive months, constraining home sales.
Compared to one year ago, fewer homes were sold below $250,000; with a 16% decline for homes priced below $100,000 and a 4% reduction for homes priced from $100,000 to below $250,000.
“The new home construction seems to be coming to the market, but we are still not seeing the amount of construction needed to solve the housing shortage,” Yun said. “It is time for builders to be innovative and creative, possibly incorporating more factory-made modules to make houses affordable rather than building homes all on-site.”
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