2024.01.1914:53:00UTC+00U.S. Existing Home Sales Unexpectedly Slump 1.0% In December

A report released by the National Association of Realtors of Friday showed an unexpected decrease in U.S. existing home sales in the month of December.

NAR said existing home sales slumped by 1.0 percent to an annual rate of 3.78 million in December after climbing by 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 3.82 million in November. Economists had expected existing home sales to come in unchanged.

"The latest month's sales look to be the bottom before inevitably turning higher in the new year," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "Mortgage rates are meaningfully lower compared to just two months ago, and more inventory is expected to appear on the market in upcoming months."

The report said housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.0 million units, down 11.5 percent from 1.13 million units in November but up 4.2 percent from 960,000 units a year ago.

The unsold inventory represents 3.2 months of supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.5 months in November but up from 2.9 months in December 2022.

NAR also said the median existing home price for all housing types in December was $382,600, representing a 4.4 percent surge from $366,500 in the same month a year ago.

"Despite sluggish home sales, 85 million homeowning households enjoyed further gains in housing wealth," Yun said. "Obviously, the recent, rapid three-year rise in home prices is unsustainable. If price increases continue at the current pace, the country could accelerate into haves and have-nots."

"Creating a path towards homeownership for today's renters is essential," he added. "It requires economic and income growth and, most importantly, a steady buildup of home construction."

NAR noted existing home sales dropped to 4.09 million on an annual basis, marking the lowest level since 1995, while the median price reached a record high of $389,800 in 2023.

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