Friday, December 21, 2012

US existing home sales highest in three years

WASHINGTON: US existing home sales rose in November, reaching their highest level in three years, a trade group said Thursday.

Sales increased 5.9 per cent over October, hitting an annual pace of 5.04 million last month, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Sales are at their highest level since November 2009, when the annual pace peaked at 5.44 million, it said.

"Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

"With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favourable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes."

The national median existing home price for all types of housing was $180,600 last month, a hike of 10.1 per cent compared to a year earlier. It marks the ninth consecutive monthly year-on-year price increase.

"Distressed" sales -- homes forced on the market by lender foreclosures and short sales -- accounted for 22 per cent of all transaction, down from 24 a month earlier and 29 per cent in November 2011.

Based on the number of seriously delinquent mortgages, Yun predicted the market share of such "distressed" properties would fall into the "teens" next year.

Total housing inventory at the end of November fell 3.8 per cent to just over two million existing homes available for sale, the lowest housing supply since September 2005.

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