November Existing-Home Sales Rise Again
RISMEDIA, Jan. 2, 2007-Existing-home sales continued to recover last month following a rise in October, with the level of sales activity suggesting a turn in the market, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Total existing-home sales - including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops - rose 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.28 million units in November from a level of 6.24 million in October, but were 10.7% below the 7.03 million-unit pace in November 2005.
David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said modest gains are expected for home sales. "As the housing market recovers from its correction, existing-home sales should be rising gradually during 2007 - it looks like we may have reached the low point for the current cycle in September," he said. "We've entered a more sustainable period of home sales now, and we expect greater support for prices over time as inventory levels are eventually drawn down."Total housing inventory levels fell 1.0% at the end of November to 3.82 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $218,000 in November, which is 3.1% lower than November 2005 when the median price was $225,000. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less. "For every 1.0 percent drop in home prices, we project an additional 50,000 buyers are drawn into the market," Lereah said.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 6.24% in November, down from 6.36% in October; the rate was 6.33% in November 2005.
NAR President Pat Vredevoogd Combs, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt, said the performance of long-term interest rates is a pleasant surprise. "Mortgage interest rates are the lowest they've been since January, and it's the first time since August of 2005 that interest rates are lower than a year earlier," said Combs. "This is increasing buying power at the same time that sellers are showing a willingness to negotiate price and terms. Combined with a plentiful supply of homes on the market, there's a window for buyers now with conditions that we haven't seen prior to the beginning of the housing boom in 2001."
Single-family home sales increased 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.52 million in November from a pace of 5.51 million in October, but were 10.2% lower than the 6.15 million-unit level in November 2005. The median existing single-family home price was $217,200 in November, which is 3.6% lower than a year ago.
Existing condominium and cooperative housing sales rose 3.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 757,000 units in November from a downwardly revised 734,000 in October, but were 13.6% below the 876,000-unit pace in November 2005. The median existing condo price was $224,600 in November, which is unchanged from a year ago.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 6.0% to a level of 1.06 million in November, but were 4.5% below November 2005. The median existing-home price in the Northeast was $269,000, down 2.2% from a year earlier.
Existing-home sales in the West rose 0.8% to an annual pace of 1.32 million in November but were 17.5% lower than a year earlier. The median price in the West was $351,000, down 0.8% from November 2005.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest were unchanged in November, holding at a level of 1.42 million, and were 9.6% lower than November 2005. The median price in the Midwest was $165,000, which is 3.5% below a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South fell 1.6% to an annual sales rate of 2.47 million in November, and were 10.2% below a year ago. The median price in the South was $179,000, down 3.2% from November 2005.