June 26, 2017

Existing home sales close 2016 as best year in a decade

25 January 2017, 10:57 | Ignacio Smith

Flora Alix-Flickr

Flora Alix-Flickr

December struggled with affordability and low levels of supply, bringing down its existing home sales by 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.49 million, down from an upwardly revised 5.65 million in November. In spite of the decline at the end of year, 2016 has been the best sales year since 2006, noted TD Economics in a research report. In addition to the lack of properties to purchase, rising home prices and mortgage rates also likely sidelined some buyers last month.

Economists had forecast sales declining 1.1 percent to a 5.52 million-unit pace in December.

Digging into the data a bit deeper, we can see that the median existing home price for all types of home was $232,200 in December, up from $223,200 one year ago.

United States home sales had a big drop last month after three months of increases.

"Solid job creation throughout 2016 and exceptionally low mortgage rates translated into a good year for the housing market", he said.

Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 10.8 percent to 1.65 million existing homes available for sale, which is the lowest level since NAR began tracking housing supply in 1999.

The statewide median price in December was $174,900, up 6 percent from December 2015 when the median price was $165,000. "Given current population and economic growth trends, housing starts should be in the range of 1.5 million to 1.6 million completions and not stuck at recessionary levels".

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"Constrained inventory in many areas and climbing rents, home prices and mortgage rates means it's not getting any easier to be a first-time buyer", he continued.

First-time buyers represented 32 percent of sales in December, unchanged from November and a year ago, NAR said.

Completed transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops finished the year at 5.45 million sales.

The average sale price in OH was $159,531 last month, up 4.8 percent from late 2015. He also said it is hard to sell homes that are not for sale.

The recent drop in home sales comes after a three month increase, so experts aren't too concerned about the latest numbers. Rising mortgage rates could, however, slow house price increases.

Perhaps paralyzed by uncertainty following the presidential election and confronted with rising home prices, potential homebuyers made a decision to hold off on purchases in Chicago during December, data released Tuesday show. He thinks sales will increase moderately - 2.4 to 3.3 percent.

At the same time, the fixed 30-year mortgage rate increased 43 basis points in December from November to an average of 4.20 percent, according to data from mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac.

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