Existing Home Sales - Report
Home Sales Pace
After several months of decline, existing home sales increased in December, according to the National Association of Realtors, pushing 2013 sales to a seven-year high.
Total sales of existing homes rose 1.0 percent in December 2013, to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.87 million homes, up from 4.82 million in November. Sales were down just 0.6 percent from December 2012. In all of 2013, however, total sales rose 9.1 percent from 2012 to 5.09 million homes, the highest level since 2006.
"Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. "We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population."
The median price rose in December as well, growing to $198,000, up from $195,500 in November and up 9.9 percent from the year before. The national median existing home price for all of 2013 rose 11.5 percent from 2012, up to $197,100.
The NAR defines existing homes as all previously-owned single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and co-ops. The group "seasonally adjusts" the sales numbers to factor in things like inclement weather, school sessions, winter holidays, etc. to smooth out the trends.
The NAR also describes its sales data based on an annual pace. The monthly figure represents the total number of housing units that would be sold in one year if the current rate were to continue unchanged.
Sales Pace by Region
Decreases in existing home sales in the Northeast and Midwest were offset by gains in the South and West. In the Northeast, sales fell to an annual pace of 640,000, down 1.5 percent from 650,000 in November, but up 3.2 percent from December 2012.
In the Midwest, sales dropped 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 1.11 million, down from November's 1.16 million, and down 0.9 percent from a year before.
Sales in the South picked up by 3.0 percent, rising to an annual level of 2.03 million in December, from 1.97 million in November. Sales were also up 4.6 percent from December 2012.
The West saw sales climb 4.8 percent to an annual pace of 1.09 million in December, up from 1.04 million the previous month. Compared with a year ago, sales are down 10.7 percent though.
Sales Price by Region
Prices rose everywhere but the Northeast in December. In the Northeast the median price decreased to $239,300, from $249,200 in November. The new price was up 3.6 percent from the year before however.
The median price in the Northeast rose to $150,700, from $150,000 the previous month and it rose 7.0 percent from the year before.
In the South, the median home price grew to $173,200 in December, up from $167,700 in November and up 8.9 percent from December 2012.
The West experienced a median price increase to $285,000, up from $282,500 in November and up 16.0 percent from the previous year.
Inventory of existing homes dropped 9.3 percent in December to a total of 1.86 million existing homes. At the current sales pace, that represents a 4.6-month supply, down from November's 5.1-month stock. Realtors consider the market to be balanced between supply and demand when there is a 6-month supply.
Data for January existing home sales, prices, and inventory will be available at the end of February.