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by John Yellig
Existing-home sales fell for the 11th month in a row in December as house prices rose for the 130th consecutive month, the longest streak of gains on record, the National Association of REALTORS® said.
Month over month, existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slid 1.5% to an annual rate of 4.02 million, which is 34% lower than the year before.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $366,900, representing a 2.3% rise from the year before.
“December was another difficult month for buyers, who continue to face limited inventory and high mortgage rates,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a press release. “However, expect sales to pick up again soon, since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.15% as of Jan. 19, down from 6.33% a week before but up from 3.56% a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.
“While house-buying power remains $141,000 lower than one year ago, house buyers are rate-sensitive, and the incremental improvement in house-buying power is enough to entice some buyers back into the market,” First American Financial chief economist Mark Fleming said. “From a financial perspective, the decision to buy a home comes down to a payment-to-paycheck calculation, and lower rates may help to reduce the mortgage payment while higher incomes can increase one’s monthly paycheck.”
Total housing inventory at the end of December was 970,000 units, a 13.4% decrease on a month-over-month basis and a 10.2% gain on a year-over-year basis. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory represented a 2.9-month supply, down from 3.3 months in November and up from 1.7 months in December 2021.
Properties typically remained on the market for 26 days in December, up from 24 days in November and 19 in December 2021. Fifty-seven percent of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month.
By property type, single-family home sales in December slid to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.6 million, down 1.1% from 3.64 million in November and down 33.5% from a year earlier. The median existing single-family home price was $372,700, up 2% on a year-over-year basis.
Existing condominium and co-op sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 420,000 units in December, down 4.5% from November and 38.2% compared to December 2021. The median existing condo price rose 3.3% year over year to $317,200.
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