Ahead of the Bell: US home sales

IndustriesAssociated Press

The National Association of Realtors reports on November sales of existing U.S. homes Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

SALES PULLBACK: Economists surveyed by the data firm FactSet predict that sales of existing home retreated 1.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.5 million. In October, sales rose to a 5.6 million, the fastest pace since February 2007. A healthy job market is putting more Americans in the position to buy homes.

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HEADWINDS: Sales have been held back a bit by rising prices, a shortage of houses for sale and, in recent weeks, by rising mortgage rates.

Sales listings have fallen 4.3 percent over the past year to 2.02 million homes. The shortage has pushed up the median sales price of existing homes 6 percent from a year ago, to $232,200. At the same time, the rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week rose to a 52-week high of 4.16 percent.

RISING RATES: U.S. interest rates have climbed since the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump. Investors have bid rates higher because they expect Trump's program of tax cuts and higher spending on defense and infrastructure will boost economic growth and inflation.

The Realtors predict that higher rates and declining affordability in many parts of the country likely will lead to only a small gain in sales of existing homes next year — a 2 percent increase, to about 5.52 million.