US Home Sales Set Recession-Era Record

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that U.S. home sales hit a three-year high in 2012 and that momentum continues to build. Sales are up in nearly …

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that U.S. home sales hit a three-year high in 2012 and that momentum continues to build. Sales are up in nearly every region of the country and have been rising for the last nine months in a row. Sales are also up among nearly every type of property, from single-family homes to condos. Total housing inventory is also down, which generally means improvement in prices as buying becomes more competitive. The median existing home price is up more than 10% over the same time last year, while the market of distressed properties continues to shrink. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.

Existing home sales in the United States are at their highest level since 2009 and prices have risen for nine months in a row, the latest data from the National Association of Realtors shows.

Total sales increased by 5.9% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million from a downwardly revised 4.76 million in October, and are 14.5% higher than November 2011.

‘Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation. With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favourable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes,’ said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

The national median existing home price for all housing types was $180,600 in November, up 10.1% from November 2011. This is the ninth consecutive monthly year on year price gain, which last occurred from September 2005 to May 2006.

Distressed homes, that is foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts, accounted for 22% of November sales of which 12% were foreclosures and 10% were short sales, down from 24% in October and 29% in November 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20% below market value in November, while short sales were discounted 16%.

‘The market share of distressed property sales will fall into the teens next year based on a diminishing number of seriously delinquent mortgages,’ Yun explained.

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Overall single family home sales rose 5.5% in November and are 12.4% than November 2011. The median existing single family home price was $180,600 in November, up 10.1% from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 9.1% in November and are 33.3% above a year ago. The median existing condo price was $181,000 in November, which is 10.6% higher than November 2011.

Regionally, existing home sales in the Northeast rose 6.9% in November and are 14.8% above November 2011. The median price in the Northeast was $232,900, down 2% from a year ago.

Existing home sales in the Midwest increased 7.2% in November and are 21.4% higher than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $141,600, which is 7% above November 2011.

In the South, existing home sales rose 7.9% and are 17.2% above November 2011. The median price in the South was $157,400, up 10.5% from a year ago.

Existing home sales in the West rose 0.8% in November and are 4.4% higher than a year ago. With ongoing inventory constraints, the median price in the West was $248,300, which is 23.9% above November 2011.

Total housing inventory at the end of November fell 3.8% to 2.03 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.8 month supply. This is less than the 5.3 months in October, and is the lowest housing supply since September of 2005 when it was 4.6 months.

Listed inventory is 22.5% below a year ago when there was a 7.1 month supply. Raw unsold inventory is now at the lowest level since December 2001 when there were 1.89 million homes on the market.

NAR president Gary Thomas pointed out that there’s been speculation of a rise in short sales before the end of the year with pending expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act.

‘However, there’s been no movement in short sales, their market share is staying in a narrow range, and they’re still taking much longer to sell, typically three months. The fact remains it is extremely difficult to expedite a short sale, and banks’ response to client urgency is only starting to improve,’ he said.

‘However, we’re hopeful that the act will be extended before it expires on December 31 so sellers don’t have to pay taxes on forgiven mortgage debt, which would be unfairly treated as income for owners who are selling under duress,’ he added.

The median time on market for all homes was 70 days in November, slightly below 71 days in October, but is 28.6% below the 98 days in November 2011. Some 32% of homes sold in November were on the market for less than a month, while 20% were on the market for six months or longer.

First time buyers accounted for 30% of purchases in November, down from 31% in October and 35% in November 2011 while all cash sales were at 30%, up slightly from 29% in October and 28% in November 2011. Investors, who account for most cash sales, purchased 19% of homes in November, little changed from 20 % October and the same as November 2011.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.


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