New and Existing Home Sales Surged in November

Home sales surged in November as a strong job market, coupled with low interest rates, drove buyers to snatch up both new and existing homes. The numbers also suggest that prices may have reached a point where more existing homeowners are willing to sell.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales, which account for 90% of U.S. home sales, surged 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.81 million units, the highest level since November 2007. The higher sales figures were driven in part by the continued recovery in the South in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. First-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of transactions in November.

The median house price increased 5.8 percent from a year ago to $248,000 in November. That was the 69th consecutive month of year-on-year price gains.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported sales of new single-family houses in November 2017 reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733,000, 17.5 percent higher than the revised October rate of 624,000 homes sold and 26.6 percent above the November 2016 estimate of 579,000. Analysts at S&P called the sales numbers the “highest level in a decade.” The report showed that residential construction will increase in coming months and provide fuel for the economy. In another sign builders will stay busy, the number of properties sold in which construction hadn’t yet started increased almost 43 percent to 258,000 in November, the most since December 2006.