Existing-Home Sales Decreased in December

Existing-home sales fell 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in December, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Even with the decline in December, existing-home sales finished 2016 as the best year in a decade.

“Solid job creation throughout 2016 and exceptionally low mortgage rates translated into a good year for the housing market,” he said. “However, higher mortgage rates and home prices combined with record low inventory levels stunted sales in much of the country in December,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “While a lack of listings and fast rising home prices was a headwind all year, the surge in rates since early November ultimately caught some prospective buyers off guard and dimmed their appetite or ability to buy a home as 2016 came to an end.”

The total housing inventory fell 10.8% to 1.65 million homes available for sale, while the median existing home price stood at $232,200, a 4.0% increase from December 2015.

Distressed sales moved up to 7% of the total in December, but down from 8% a year ago. Five percent of sales were foreclosures and 2% were short sales. On average, foreclosures and short sales sold for discounts of 20% and 10%, respectively.

Read the NAR release.