Existing-home sales continue to strengthen


Sales of previously owned USA homes rose in November to an nearly 11-year high, indicating demand picked up momentum heading into the end of the year, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Wednesday, Dec. 20.

The multi-year streak of rising prices and falling inventories also continued, adding to concerns about affordability for would-be homeowners, the National Association of Realtors said in the monthly report. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in October was $546,430; in MA, it was $375,000; in Maryland, it was $281,466; and in NY, it was $249,900. Sales in the South, which accounts for nearly half of the existing homes sales market, increased 8.3 percent last month.

Single-family home sales grew 4.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.09 million in November and are now 3.2% above the pace from a year ago. "That is, national house prices will be approximately 4 percent lower than they would have been if there was no tax legislation". All-cash sales rose marginally, to 22 percent, up from 20 percent in October. The data are "showing exceptionally tight inventory conditions". Strong sales expected in December should push 2017 to beat last year's sales, Greg Gosselin, president of the Maine Association of Realtors, said in a prepared statement. Three percent of sales were foreclosures, and 1% were short sales.

The biggest overhaul of the tax system in more than 30 years, which could be signed into law by President Donald Trump soon, will cap the deduction for mortgage interest at $750,000 in home loan value for residences bought from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2025.

More news: WannaCry cyber attack: North Korea was 'directly responsible'
More news: Lady Gaga Las Vegas Residency a Done Deal
More news: Roman Catholic Church should end priest celibacy, report sex abuse: Aussie panel

After Dec. 31, 2025, the cap would revert to $1 million in loan value.

The PHLX housing index was trading higher, outperforming a broadly flat stock market. "As evidenced by a subdued level of first-time buyers and increased share of cash buyers, move-up buyers with considerable down payments and those with cash made up a bulk of the sales activity last month". Prices for U.S. Treasuries fell. This is consistent with the fall in inventories, which dropped lower to 1.72 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest level since the inception of the series. The median existing home price was $248,000, up 5.8% from November 2016 ($234,400). In contrast, annual wage growth has struggled to break above 2.9 percent since the 2007/09 recession ended.

Florida's housing market continued its positive track in November, with more closed sales, more new listings, more pending sales and rising median prices according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

The government reported on Tuesday that single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, jumped 5.3 percent in November to the highest level since September 2007. Inventories are another major issue, particularly for starter homes.