Last year was a terrific year for existing-home sales, according to new information from the National Association of Realtors. According to their 2017 report on existing-home sales, the association recorded the highest number of sales for the U.S. in 11 years.
Existing-home sales fell 3.6% month over month on a seasonally adjusted basis in December as inventory shortages were severe. Nevertheless, even with the monthly decline, sales for all of 2017 were up 1.1% over the prior year, hitting a pace of 5.51 million – the highest since 2006.
“The lack of supply over the past year has been eye-opening and is why, even with strong job creation pushing wages higher, home-price gains – at 5.8% nationally in 2017 – doubled the pace of income growth and were even swifter in several markets,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
Inventory was tighter than ever and hit a new all-time low, according to the report. Total U.S. inventory at the end of December 2017 was 1.48 million existing homes available for sale – an 11.4% drop from the year before. Unsold inventory is at a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace – the lowest level since NAR began tracking nearly 20 years ago.
The median existing-home price in the U.S. last month was $246,800, a 5.8% spike from December 2016. December of 2017 also marked the 70th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.
“Existing sales concluded the year on a softer note, but they were guided higher these last 12 months by a multi-year streak of exceptional job growth, which ignited buyer demand,” Yun said. “At the same time, market conditions were far from perfect. New listings struggled to keep up with what was sold very quickly, and buying became less affordable in a large swath of the country. These two factors ultimately muted what should have been a stronger sales pace. …Affordability pressures persisted, and the pool of interested buyers at the end of the year significantly outweighed what was available for sale.”
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