US housing market slump deepens for 10th month in November – Al Jazeera English
The housing market slump deepened in November as sales of previously occupied US homes slowed for the 10th consecutive month – the longest such stretch on records going back to 1999.
Existing home sales fell 7.7 percent last month from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.09 million, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Wednesday. That was a slower sales pace than what economists had expected, according to FactSet.
Sales plunged 35.4 percent from November last year. Excluding the steep sales downturn that occurred in May 2020 at the start of the pandemic, sales are now at the slowest annual pace since November 2010, when the housing market was mired in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s.
Still, home prices continued to rise last month, though at a far smaller rate than just a few months ago. The national median home sales price rose 3.5 percent in November from a year earlier, to $370,700.
Nearly a quarter of homes that sold last month fetched more than their asking price, said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist.
“We have this strange market where there are fewer buyers and fewer transactions, yet due to the limited supply some multiple offers are still happening and homes are still selling reasonably fast,” Yun said.
November’s housing snapshot was the latest evidence of a deepening rut from what was a blistering sales pace at the start of the year, when mortgage rates hovered near historic lows.
The average rate on a 30-year mortgage was slightly above 3 percent in early January. Last week, it was at 6.31 percent, more than double the 3.12 percent average rate a year earlier, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.
That increase can add hundreds of dollars to monthly mortgage payments and also can discourage homeowners who locked in a far lower rate during the last couple of years from buying a new home.
Though they have declined in recent weeks, mortgage rates averaged 7.08 percent as recently as early November.
Mortgage rates are likely to remain a significant hurdle for some time as the Federal Reserve has consistently signalled its intent to keep raising short-term rates in a bid to squash the hottest inflation in decades.
The federal funds rate stood at a range of 4.25 percent to 4.5 percent, the highest level in 15 years. Fed policymakers have forecast that the central bank’s rate will reach a range of 5 percent to 5.25 percent by the end of 2023.
While mortgage rates do not necessarily mirror the Fed’s rate increases, they have tended to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. …….