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Existing home sales continue to climb at highest pace since 2007

NAR: This is the healthiest job market since the Great Recession

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Existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in November to the highest pace in almost 10 years, according to the most recent report from the National Association of Realtors.

Existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.7% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.61 million in November. This is up from a downwardly revised 5.57 million in October, up 15.4% from last year’s 4.86 million and the highest since February 2007.

“The healthiest job market since the Great Recession and the anticipation of some buyers to close on a home before mortgage rates accurately rose from their historically low level have combined to drive sales higher in recent months,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Furthermore, it’s no coincidence that home shoppers in the Northeast – where price growth has been tame all year – had the most success last month.”

The median existing-home price rose once again in November to $234,900, up 6.8% from last year’s $220,000. This marks the 57th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Inventory, on the other hand, dropped 8% from October to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale. This is now 9.3% below last year’s 2.04 million, and the 18th consecutive month of annual decreases.

“Existing housing supply at the beginning of the year was inadequate and is now even worse heading into 2017,” Yun said. “Rental units are also seeing this shortage. As a result, both home prices and rents continue to far outstrip incomes in much of the country.”

However, home builders reported a significant boost in confidence after President-elect Donald Trump won the election, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, leading some to believe that it could push new home builds up in 2017.

Properties are now staying on the market slightly longer than before at 43 days, up from 41 days in October, but down significantly from last year’s 54 days. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 110 days in November, while foreclosures sold in 55 days and non-distressed homes took 41 days. Overall, 42% of homes sold in November were on the market for less than a month.

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