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Existing home sales unexpectedly fell 1 per cent in December to a 4.94 million annual rate, according to the National Association of Realtors.November’s reading was revised down to a 4.99 million annual rate.
But the report wasn’t entirely negative, the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $180,800 in December, up 11.5 per cent from a year ago. Existing home prices were up for 10 straight months.
For 2012, the preliminary reading of median existing home prices was $176,600, up 6.3 per cent from 2011.
A regional breakdown showed that existing home sales in Northeast were up 3.2 per cent; in the Midwest they fell 5.9 per cent; in the south they were down 3 per cent and in the West they were up 5.1 per cent.
Millan Mulraine of TD Securities said numbers could have been impacted by fiscal cliff concerns but could pick up in January reading:
“Overall, this report points to some modest relapse in what has otherwise been a steady rebound in housing market activity since the summer months, and the drop in sales may have been due in part to the impact of elevated concerns at the time about the impact of the fiscal cliff.
Given this, we anticipate that sales activity could rebound in January following the tax deal, given the very supportive buying conditions and the increasing incentive for first-time buyers (who are currently sitting on the fence) to slowing move into the market as prices begin to firm.”
Existing home sales for December will be out at 10 a.m. ET.
Analysts polled by Bloomberg are looking for a rise in existing home sales to a 5.1 million annual rate.
In November, existing home sales were up 14.5 per cent year-over-year, and up 5.9 per cent on the month.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) measure of resales includes previously constructed homes, condominium, and co-ops in which a sale closed during the month.
Existing home sales account for a larger share of the market than new homes, according to Bloomberg. Existing home sales and new home sales both began to pick up in 2012 but the latter increased at a slower pace. That coupled with the recent uptick in housing starts and homebuilder confidence is raising concerns about a build up in inventory that could impact the housing recovery.