US Existing Home Sales fell 1.5% In December, Down for Eleventh Straight Month

US existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors fell 1.5% month-over-month in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.02 million (consensus 4.20 million) versus an unrevised 4.43 million in October. That is the eleventh straight month that existing home sales have fallen, the longest stretch since 1999, and the lowest level since November of 2010. Total sales in December were down 34.0% from one year ago.  All regions experienced year-over-year declines.

The median existing-home sales price climbed 2.3% from the previous year to $366,900. Median price growth has slowed meaningfully as higher mortgage rates and inflation has enforced affordability pressures.

Home Sale

The report reconfirms how much the U.S. property market remained pressured by high mortgage rates and rising prices, sending the seasonally adjusted annual rate (4.02 million) toward its pandemic low (3.91 million) that was reached in May 2020.

  • Yesterday we heard US housing starts declined 1.4% month-over-month in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.425 million (consensus 1.355 million).
  • Total building permits fell 1.6% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.330 million (consensus 1.370 million) and lowest level since May 2020.

“December was another difficult month for buyers, who continue to face limited inventory and high mortgage rates,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “However, expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”

Properties typically remained on the market for 26 days in December, up from 24 days in November and 19 days in December 2021. Fifty-seven percent of homes sold in December 2022 were on the market for less than a month.

Data for October 2022

Highlights

  • Existing Home Sales Change Dec: 4.02M (est 3.95M; prev R 4.08M)
  • Existing Home Sales (M/M): -1.5% (est -3.4%; prev R -7.9%)
  • Existing Home Sales (Y/Y): -34%
  • Median Home Price (Y/Y) (USD): 366.9K or +2.3% (prev 370.7K or +3.5%)
United States Existing Home Sales
United States Existing Home Sales

“Home prices nationwide are still positive, though mildly,” Yun added. “Markets in roughly half of the country are likely to offer potential buyers discounted prices compared to last year.”

  • The median existing home price for all housing types increased 2.3% year-over-year to $366,900, representing the 130th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. This extends the streak to a new record. The median price for single-family homes rose 2.0% year-over-year to $372,700.E
  • The inventory of homes for sale at the end of December was down 13.4% month-over-month at 970,000 units, but up 10.2% from a year ago.
  • Unsold inventory sits at a 2.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.3 months in November and up from 1.7 in December 2021. It remains well below the 6.0-months’ supply typically associated with a more balanced market.
  • First-time buyers accounted for 31% of sales in December, up from 28% in November and up from 30% a year ago.
  • All-cash sales comprised 28% of transactions in December, up from 26% in November and up from 23% a year ago.
  • 57% of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month, versus 61% in November, with properties typically remaining on the market for 26 days, up from 24 days in November and up from 19 days a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

  • Existing home sales across regions: Northeast (-1.9%); Midwest (-1.0%); South (-2.2%); and West (unch).
  • Median home prices by region year-over-year: Northeast (+1.6% to $391,400); Midwest (+2.9% to $262,000); South (+3.5% to $337,900); and West (up slightly to $557,900).

Realtor.com®’s Market Trends Report in in November shows that the largest year-over-year median list price growth occurred in Milwaukee (+38.1%), Memphis (+26.9%) and Miami (+24.8%). Phoenix reported the highest increase in the share of homes that had prices reduced compared to last year (+28.4 percentage points), followed by Austin (+23.8 percentage points) and Denver (+21.0 percentage points).

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


Existing home sales account for 90% of US transactions and are calculated on a contract close basis. New home sales account for the remaining 10% and are based on contract signings.

Existing-home sales include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR benchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

 Source: NAHB

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