Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose in November to the strongest pace in more than a decade, a sign of solid momentum in the housing sector as 2017 draws to a close.
Existing-home sales increased 5.6% in November from the prior month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.81 million, the strongest reading since December 2006, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected sales would rise a more modest 0.7%, to a 5.52 million annual rate last month.
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"Faster economic growth in recent quarters, the booming stock market and continuous job gains are fueling substantial demand for buying a home as 2017 comes to an end," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said.
Sales in November were up 3.8% from a year earlier, and grew on the month in all regions except in the West.
While part of the gain in sales could be catch-up after sale closings were delayed by late-summer hurricanes, the housing market appears poised for continued growth in 2018, said Ian Shepherdson, economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients.
"The fundamentals remain favorable, with mortgage rates still low and the labor market very strong," Mr. Shepherdson said.
There was a 3.4-month supply of homes on the market at the end of the month, the lowest in records that go back to 1999. The supply shortage is, in turn, driving prices higher, Mr. Yun said. The median sales price in November was $248,000, up 5.8% from a year earlier.
"It is highly likely that existing sales would have been much stronger in 2017 if supply had been more abundant," said David Berson, Nationwide chief economist.
News Corp, owner of the Journal, also operates Realtor.com under license from the National Association of Realtors.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 20, 2017 14:53 ET (19:53 GMT)