Existing-Home Sales Signal a Return to Normal Conditions in Housing Soon

by: Wall St. Cheat Sheet

by Carolyn Austin

Existing-home sales continued to trend upward for the month of November, reflecting shrinking inventories, lower interest rates, and increasing demand from homebuyer tax credits.

The 6.54M sold units exceeded expectations of 6.25M for November and surpassed the 6.10M units sold last month. The report from the Commerce Department includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops. First-time homebuyers accounted for 51% of sales.

Sales increased 7.4 percent over existing-home sales for October and are at their highest level since existing-home sales of 6.55M in February 2007. Sales data is based on actual transaction closings.

Total housing inventory fell by 1.3 percent to 6.5 months compared to the 7.0 month supply in October.

The median home price for all housing types rose for the second month in a row despite continuing sales of distressed properties. Distressed properties accounted for 33 percent of sales in November and 30 percent of sales last October.

The report data point to a possible stabilization of home values in the near future, signaling a return to normal conditions in the housing market.