U.S. existing home sales, prices surge in November

Home Sales at 11-Year High Stateside

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected sales would rise a more modest 0.7%, to a 5.52 million annual rate last month.

Existing-home sales increased 5.6% in November from the prior month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.81 million, the strongest reading since December 2006, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

At November's sales pace, it would take a record low 3.4 months to exhaust the current inventory, down from 3.9 months in October.

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Inventories, on the other hand, sank 7.2 percent to 1.67 million existing homes on the market, putting the available stock down 9.7 percent from a year ago, a measure which has fallen for 30 straight months.

"The anticipated rise in mortgage rates next year could further cut into affordability if these staggeringly low supply levels persist", Yun said.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $248,000, up 5.8 percent from November 2016, the 69th straight month of year-over-year gains.

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Builder confidence in the market for new homes increased five points to 74 in December, the highest report since July 1999, the National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday. The supply shortage is, in turn, driving prices higher, Mr. Yun said.

"The elevated presence of investors paying in cash continues to add a layer of frustration to the supply and affordability headwinds aspiring first-time buyers are experiencing", Yun said in a statement.

The hottest metro areas in November were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.; and Stockton-Lodi, Calif.

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Sales on existing homes reached an 11-year high in November, jumping 5.6 percent over the month. Still, similar to this spring, when sales consistently beat forecasts despite very low inventory, we could be seeing shifting seasonal home shopping patterns - buyers determined to make a deal could be staying on the market well into the autumn and winter months. They, however, fell 2.3 percent in the West, which has seen a strong increase in house prices. Regionally, sales in the Northeast were up 6.7 percent and the regional median price rose 4 percent to $273,600.

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