U.S. Existing Home Sales Rebound Much More Than Expected In December

After reporting a notable decrease in U.S. existing home sales in the previous month, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Wednesday showing existing home sales rebounded by much more than anticipated in the month of December.

NAR said existing home sales spiked by 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 5.54 million in December after tumbling by 1.7 percent to a rate of 5.35 million in November. Economists had expected existing home sales to jump by 1.2 percent to an annual rate of 5.43 million.

With the much bigger than expected monthly increase, existing home sales in December were up by 10.8 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

On a full-year basis, NAR said total existing home sales came in at 5.34 million in 2019, unchanged from the previous year.

A jump in existing home sales in the South offset declines in the West and Midwest, while existing home sales in the Northeast remained unchanged.

“I view 2019 as a neutral year for housing in terms of sales,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Home sellers are positioned well, but prospective buyers aren’t as fortunate. Low inventory remains a problem, with first-time buyers affected the most.”

The report said the median existing home price for all housing types was $274,500 in December, up 1.2 percent from $271,300 in December and up 7.8 percent from $254,700 in December of 2018.

Meanwhile, NAR said housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.40 million units, down 14.6 percent from November and down 8.5 percent from a year ago.

The unsold inventory represents 3.0 months of supply at the current sales pace, down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in both November and December 2018.

Single-family home sales surged up by 2.7 percent to an annual rate of 4.92 million in December, while existing condominium and co-op sales spiked by 10.7 percent to a rate of 620,000.

Compared to the previous month, existing home sales saw significant growth in the Northeast, South and West regions, while existing home sales in the Midwest slumped by 1.5 percent.

Next Monday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new home sales in the month of December.

New home sales are expected to rise by 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 725,000 in December after jumping by 1.3 percent to a rate of 719,000 in November.

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