Existing-home sales were on the rise last month, led by a surge in the Northeast and modest gains in the South, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday.
Existing-home sales – completed transactions that encompass single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops – ticked up 0.7 percent in November, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million. The gain was enough to propel existing-home sales to the highest level since February 2007. Further, sales are 15.4 percent higher than a year ago.
Housing has posted a strong three-month stretch to close out the year, says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
“The healthiest job market since the Great Recession and the anticipation of some buyers to close on a home before mortgage rates accurately rose from their historically low level have combined to drive sales higher in recent months,” Yun says. “Furthermore, it’s no coincidence that home shoppers in the Northeast – where price growth has been tame all year – had the most success last month.”
Here’s a closer look at five stats that put the housing data from November in context.
1. Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $234,900, up 6.8 percent from a year ago ($220,000).
2. Days on the market: Forty-two percent of homes sold in November were on the market for less than a month. On average, properties stayed on the market for 43 days in November, which is down from 54 days a year ago. Short sales lingered on the market the longest at a median of 110 days in November. Foreclosures sold in 55 days and non-distressed homes took 41 days to sell, NAR’s data shows.
3. All-cash sales: All-cash sales comprised 21 percent of transactions in November, which is down from 27 percent a year ago. Individual investors account for the biggest bulk of cash sales and purchased 12 percent of homes in November, down from 16 percent a year ago.
4. Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales increased to 6 percent in November, but that's still down from 9 percent a year ago. In November, four percent of sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. On average, foreclosures sold for a discount of 17 percent below market value in November, while short sales were discounted 16 percent.
5. Inventories: By the end of November, total housing inventories fell 8 percent to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale. Inventories are now 9.3 percent lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a four-month supply at the current sales pace.
“Existing housing supply at the beginning of the year was inadequate and is now even worse heading into 2017,” says Yun. “Rental units are also seeing this shortage. As a result, both home prices and rents continue to far outstrip incomes in much of the country.”
Northeast: existing-home sales rose 8 percent to an annual rate of 810,000. Sales are now 15.7 percent above a year ago. Median price: $263,000, which is 3.3 percent higher than a year ago.
Midwest: existing-home sales dropped 2.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.33 million in November. Sales are still 18.8 percent above a year ago. Median price: $180,300, up 6.5 percent from a year ago.
South: existing-home sales increased 1.4 percent to an annual rate of 2.22 million, and are 11.6 percent higher than a year ago. Median price: $206,900, up 9.2 percent from a year ago.
West: existing-home sales dropped 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.25 million in November. Sales are 19 percent higher than a year ago. Median price: $345,400, up 8.5 percent from a year ago.