Existing-home sales slide slightly in November

by Kerrie Kennedy

Existing-home sales fell in November, ending a five-month streak of month-over-month gains, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales were down 2.5% from October, although compared to November 2019, they were up 25.8%.
“Home sales in November took a marginal step back, but sales for all of 2020 are already on pace to surpass last year’s levels,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a press release. “Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s amazing that the housing sector is outperforming expectations.”

Yun noted that rising coronavirus cases across the country along with continued unemployment woes are holding some consumers back.

“Circumstances are far from being back to the pre-pandemic normal,” he said. “However, the latest stimulus package and with the vaccine distribution underway, and a very strong demand for homeownership still prevalent, robust growth is forthcoming for 2021.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $310,800, up 14.6% from November 2019, marking 105 straight months of year-over-year gains.

  All major regions either took a step back or held steady in November from the previous month, although all experienced significant year-over-year growth.

 In the South, existing-home sales fell 3.8% in November from the previous month but were still 25.9% higher year over year. The median price in the South was $270,000, a 15.0% increase from November 2019.

According to NAR, first-time buyers were responsible for 32% of sales in November but noted that rising prices might start to impact those numbers.

During NAR’s Real Estate Forecast Summit, held earlier this month, industry insiders predicted mortgage rates will hover around 3% in the coming year, with annual median home price increasing an estimated 8.0%.

“Housing affordability, which had greatly benefitted from falling mortgage rates, are now being challenged due to record-high home prices,” Yun said. “That could place strain on some potential consumers, particularly first-time buyers.”

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