By Robert Hughes
Sales of existing homes fell 6.4 percent in December to a 4.99 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. Sales are down 10.3 percent from a year ago and 12.8 percent from the recent peak of 5.72 million in November 2017. Sales declined in all four regions tallied: sales were off 11.2 percent in the Midwest and were 10.5 percent below the year-ago level; sales declined 6.8 percent in the Northeast, putting sales 6.8 percent below year-ago levels; sales dropped 5.4 percent in the South, leaving that region's sales rate 8.7 percent below the year-ago pace; and sales fell 1.9 percent for the month in the West and are 15.0 percent below the December 2017 rate.
Sales in the market for existing single-family homes, which account for just under 90 percent of total existing-home sales, fell 5.5 percent in December, coming in at a 4.45 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (see chart). From a year ago, sales are down 10.1 percent. Sales were down across three of the four regions: sales dropped 11.1 percent in the Midwest to 1.12 million; the Northeast saw a 6.5 percent decline to 580,000; and the South posted a 5.2 percent pullback, coming in at 1.84 million. Sales rose 2.2 percent in the West to 910,000 from 890,000 in the prior month.
Total inventory of existing single-family homes for sale declined 11.1 percent to 1.36 million in December, the sixth decrease in a row, leaving the months' supply (inventory times 12 divided by the annual selling rate) at 3.7, down 5.1 percent from November but 19.4 percent above the year-ago level (see chart).
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