A Welcome Sign for Housing: Another Boost in Home Sales

December 19, 2018

For the second consecutive month, existing-home sales rose, as three of the four major U.S. regions saw an increase in sales last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday.

Total existing-home sales—which are completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—rose 1.9 percent from October to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.32 million in November. Sales, however, are still down 7 percent from a year ago, NAR reports.

“The market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation.”

A chart showing November home sales statistics.

National Association of REALTORS®

Here’s a closer look at some of the leading indicators in existing-home sales in November:

Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $257,700 in November, up 4.2 percent from a year ago.

Inventories: Total housing inventory fell to 1.74 million in November, but is higher than the 1.67 million from a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 3.9-month supply at the current sales pace. “A marked shift is occurring in the West region, with much lower sales and very soft price growth,” says Yun. “It is also the West region where consumers have expressed the weakest sentiment about home buying, largely due to lack of affordable housing inventory.”

An infographic describing existing-home sales.

National Association of REALTORS®

Days on the market: Forty-three percent of homes sold in November were on the market for less than a month. Properties stayed on the market, on average, for 42 days in November, up slightly from 40 days a year ago.

Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales comprised just 2 percent of sales in November, the lowest since NAR began tracking such data in October 2008. A year ago, distressed sales compromised 4 percent of home sales.

All-cash sales: All-cash transactions accounted for 21 percent of sales in November, down from 22 percent a year ago. Investors make up the bulk of all-cash sales. Individual investors purchased 13 percent of homes in November, down from 14 percent a year ago.