U.S. existing-home sales rose from a 13-year low, climbing 0.8% from the previous month and breaking a five-month streak in which sales declined, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Despite the increase, sales were down 7.3% compared to the same period last year, as affordability challenges continue to hinder prospective buyers. Most of this period’s closed sales went under contract in October, when mortgage rates were at a two-decade high. With rates having dropped more than a full percentage point since then, existing-home sales may continue to pick up in the months ahead.
New Listings were up 6.3 percent to 389. Pending Sales decreased 8.6 percent to 328. Inventory grew 24.5 percent to 1,673 units.
Prices moved higher as Median Sales Price was up 4.0 percent to $299,900. Days on Market decreased 1.6 percent to 61 days. Months Supply of Inventory was up 25.9 percent to 3.4 months, indicating that supply increased relative to demand.
Low levels of inventory continue to impact U.S. home sales, offering few options for aspiring buyers to choose from. Going into December there were 1.13 million units for sale, down 1.7% from the previous month but up 0.9% from the same period last year, for a 3.5 months’ supply at the current sales pace. As a result, sales prices remain high nationwide, with NAR reporting the median existing-home price rose 4% annually to $387,600 as of last measure, the fifth consecutive month of year over-year price gains. Homebuyer demand is picking up, and without a significant increase in supply, experts believe home prices will likely remain elevated for some time to come.
Housing Supply Overview
U.S. sales of new residential homes sank 12.2% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000, the lowest level since November 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, as decades-high mortgage rates continue to impact buyer affordability. The National Association of Home Builders cautioned the drop is only temporary, however, with sales of new homes expected to rise in the months ahead due to falling mortgage rates, which have retreated more than one full percentage point from their peak of 7.79% in October. For the 12-month period spanning January 2023 through December 2023, Pending Sales in the Western Upstate Association of REALTORS® region improved 0.1 percent overall. The price range with the largest pending sales gain was the $250,001 to $350,000 range, where sales rose 19.7 percent.
The overall Median Sales Price rose 7.4 percent to $289,900. The property type with the largest gain was the Single-Family Homes segment, where prices improved 6.8 percent to $297,000. The price range that tended to sell the quickest was the $150,000 and Below range at 52 days. The price range that tended to sell the slowest was the $1,000,001 and Above range at 74 days.
Market-wide, inventory levels increased 24.5 percent. The property type with the largest gain was the Single-Family Homes segment, where the number of properties for sale were up 28.3 percent. That amounts to 3.4 months of inventory for Single-Family Homes and 2.2 months of inventory for Condos.
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