A report released this morning by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that total existing home sales in America, which account for a much larger portion of the overall U.S. housing market than new home sales (due out tomorrow), fell by 3.6 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million units. That was much worse than expected and the first monthly decline since August. The November gain was also revised lower, which together with the disappointing December print pulled the annual pace of growth down to just 1.1 percent. However, on an aggregate basis 2017 was still the best year for existing home sales since 2006.
Regionally, existing home sales fell across the country last month, but the biggest declines occurred in the Northeast (-7.5 percent) and the Midwest (+6.3 percent). Total housing inventory plunged 11.4 percent in December to 1.48 million existing homes available for sale, which is also 10.3 percent lower compared to a year ago. Further, the median selling price was $246,800 in December, up 5.8 percent over the past year and therefore the 70th consecutive month of annual growth. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, added that “New listings struggled to keep up with what was sold very quickly, and buying became less affordable in a large swath of the country. These two factors ultimately muted what should have been a stronger sales pace.”
Sources: Econoday, NAR, FRBSLPost author: Charles Couch