NAR: Existing-home sales post third monthly gain in a row

by John Yellig

Existing-home sales rose for the third month in a row in November, as the median sales price also posted an increase, marking 117 consecutive months of gains, the longest streak on record, the National Association of Realtors said.  

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.9% from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.46 million in November. Year over year, sales were down 2% from 6.59 million transactions in November 2020.  

The median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $353,900, up 13.9% from November 2020, as prices rose in each region, the NAR said in a press release.  

Total housing inventory at the end of last month stood at 1.11 million units, down 9.8% from October and down 13.3% from a year earlier. November’s unsold inventory represented a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down compared to October as well as last year.

“Determined buyers were able to land housing before mortgage rates rise further in the coming months,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in the release. “Locking in a constant and firm mortgage payment motivated many consumers who grew weary of escalating rents over the last year. Mortgage rates are projected to jump in 2022; however, I don’t expect the imminent increase to be overly dramatic.”

Yun expects the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to average at 3.7% by year-end 2022.

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in November flat with October and down from 21 days a year earlier. Eighty-three percent of homes sold in November 2021 were on the market for less than a month.

By property type, single-family home sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.75 million, up 1.6% from 5.66 million in October but down 2.2% from a year earlier. The median existing single-family home price was $362,6000, up 14.9% on a year-over-year basis.   

Existing condominium and co-op sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 710,000 units, up 4.4% from 680,000 in the previous month and flat compared to November 2020. The median existing condo price rose 4.4% year over year to $283,200. 

“Supply-chain disruptions for building new homes and labor shortages have hindered bringing more inventory to the market,” Yun said. “Therefore, housing prices continue to march higher due to the near record-low supply levels.”

In November, first-time buyers were responsible for 26% of sales, down from 29% in October and from 32% in November 2020, while individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 15% of homes, down from 17% in October and up from 14% in November 2020.

By major U.S. region, sales of existing homes rose 0.7% in the Midwest and 2.9% in the South, while they were flat in the Northeast and up 2.2% in the West.

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