April 22, 2018

Existing home sales reach highest point in 11 years

22 December 2017, 12:56 | Lionel James

A U.S. flag decorates a for-sale sign at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington Thomson Reuters

A U.S. flag decorates a for-sale sign at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington   Thomson Reuters

The NAR said sales in the South, which accounts for nearly half of the existing homes sales market, increased 8.3 percent last month. The unemployment rate has fallen to a 17-year low, while more people in the younger millennial generation appear to be forming their own households and looking for places to buy. Home sales were last this strong in December 2006, when properties sold at annual pace of 6.42 million. The year-to-date (Jan. 1 - Nov. 30) sales total of 122,238 was 2.5-percent above the same period last year.The November 2017 statewide median sales price was $254,000, an increase of 5.8 percent from the November 2016 median of $240,000. The median price nationwide was up 5.4 percent to $248,800.

After posting a small increase in September, on-market inventory has now continued to slide for the past two months, declining 2.4 percent in November to 1.72 million units (SAAR), the lowest number since the data begin in 1999.

Yun said that an expected increase in mortgage rates next year "could further cut into affordability if these staggeringly low supply levels persist". "Price appreciation is too fast in a lot of markets right now".

He noted that the increase in homebuilder optimism will likely mean more new construction in 2018 to help ease persistent inventory shortages.

But for those on the higher end of the home market, increases are seen in all regions of the country. Regionally, sales in the Northeast were up 6.7 percent and the regional median price rose 4 percent to $273,600. New-home sales account for only around 10% and are tabulated when contracts get signed.

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On tax reform, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said following congressional clearance of the tax overhaul package that there is good news for homeowners can because they can count on the mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction. Those numbers are 6.8 percent higher than at this time previous year.

All-cash sales were 22 percent of transactions in November, which is up from 20 percent in October and 21 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate USA mortgages was 3.93 percent last week, slightly better than the 4.16 percent rate a year ago, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The statewide median sales price grew by 5.8 percent in November compared to last November.

But Yun also said that the robust home sales are primarily on the higher end of the market, leaving out many first-time and lower-income buyers. The decline in sales in the West was even more dramatic given that condo/coop sales in the West surged an astonishing 23.5 percent.

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