Real Estate

U.S. Existing-Home Sales Fall for the 10th Straight Month in November

The numbers: U.S. existing-home sales fell 7.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.09 million in November, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

This is the 10th straight monthly decline in existing-home sales. The 10-month losing streak is the longest since NAR began tracking sales in 1999.

Existing-home sales have dropped by nearly 37% in the last 10 months, which is a new record.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal were expecting existing-home sales to drop to 4.17 million.

The last time existing-home sales fell to this level was in May 2020.

Outside of the pandemic, the level of sales activity was lowest since November 2010, while in the midst of the foreclosure crisis in the United States.

Compared with November 2021, home sales were down 35.4%.

Key details: Single-family home sales are falling at the fastest pace on record.

After a frenzied pandemic boom, the drop in existing-home sales of single-family units over the past year is the largest ever recorded, breaking the record last set in 2007.

The median price for an existing home fell to $370,700 in November, from $379,100 in October.

The number of homes on the market fell 6.6% to 1.14 million units in November.

Expressed in terms of the months-supply metric, there was a 3.3-month supply of homes for sale in November, the same as the previous month. Before the pandemic, a four or five-month supply was more the norm.

Homes remained on the market for 24 days on average, up from 21 days in October. Pre-pandemic, the average time for homes to remain on the market was a month.

Sales of existing homes fell across the country, led by the West, which saw a 12.5% drop. The West also saw the slowest increase in home prices, the NAR noted.

All-cash transactions made up 26% of all transactions. About 28% of homes were sold to first-time home buyers, unchanged from the previous month.

Big picture: The housing market is still finding its footing amid a quiet holiday season.

With mortgage rates firmly above 6%,existing-home prices continue to moderate.

Plus, with the inventory of homes still tight, homebuyers are still having a hard time finding good deals.

Some economists are expecting the downturn in housing to persist until buyer demand recovers.

What the realtors said: “The real estate market was frozen in November, resembling the sales activity seen during the COVID-19 economic lockdowns in 2020,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors said.

Yun attributed to the fall in sales in November to a rapid run-up in mortgage rates between late October and early November, when rates exceeded 7%.

With rates coming off those highs, “maybe we should turn the corner in sales in a month or two,” he added.

The housing market is in a recession, Yun stressed, but homeowners and home values will not be affected he added.

What are they saying? Home prices “have much further to fall from here,” Kieran Clancy, senior U.S. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note.

“We look for a further 15-to-20% decline in prices over the next year, bringing the ratio of home prices to disposable incomes back in line with its long run average,” he added.

Part of the push for home prices to fall will come from a rise in supply, Clancy explained, on top of a fall in demand.

Market reaction: Stocks were up in early trading on Wednesday. The yield on the 10-year note rose above 3.6%.

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