Existing-home sales rose slightly in November, indicating a stabilization in housing in the wake of mortgage disruptions earlier this year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Total existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.00 million units in November from an upwardly revised pace of 4.98 million in October, but are 20.0 percent below the 6.25 million-unit level in November 2006.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market appears to be stabilizing. “Near term, existing-home sales should continue to hover in a narrow range, just as they have since September, and that’s good news because it’ll be a further sign that the housing market is stabilizing,” he said. “Mortgage interest rates are near historic lows and the most current data shows decelerating price declines, along with a modest reduction in the number of homes on the market.” Disruptions in mortgage availability and pricing peaked in August, which caused sales to slow in subsequent months.
The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $210,200 in November, down 3.3 percent from November 2006 when the median was $217,300, but there remains a downward drag on the national median as the mix of closed sales has shifted away from expensive markets.
“Just like the weather, there are large local variations in home prices,” Yun said. A quarterly examination of price performance on a metropolitan basis shows nearly two-thirds of metro areas are showing price increases. Among the many metros experiencing healthy local price gains are Farmington, N.M.; Reading, Pa.; Columbia, S.C., and Fargo, N.D.
Total housing inventory declined 3.6 percent at the end of November to 4.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.3-month supply3 at the current sales pace, down from a 10.7-month supply in October. “Inventory is still high, and further reduction in prices may be required in some areas to induce buyers back into the market,” Yun said.
*article courtesy of NAR
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