Existing-home sales in the U.S. fell in November 2020, ending a five-month streak of monthly gains, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors.
All major regions either took a step back or held steady in terms of their respective month-over-month status, but each of the four areas experienced significant year-over-year growth.
Total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 2.5% from October to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million in November. However, sales in total rose year-over-year, up 25.8% from a year ago (5.32 million in November 2019).
“Home sales in November took a marginal step back, but sales for all of 2020 are already on pace to surpass last year’s levels,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s amazing that the housing sector is outperforming expectations.”
Yun notes that job recoveries have stalled in the past few months, and fast-rising coronavirus cases along with stricter lockdowns have weakened consumer confidence.
“Circumstances are far from being back to the pre-pandemic normal,” he said. “However, the latest stimulus package and with the vaccine distribution underway, and a very strong demand for homeownership still prevalent, robust growth is forthcoming for 2021.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $310,800, up 14.6% from November 2019 ($271,300), as prices increased in every region. November’s national price increase marks 105 straight months of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of November totaled 1.28 million units, down 9.9% from October and down 22% from one year ago (1.64 million). Unsold inventory sits at an all-time low 2.3-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 2.5 months in October and down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in November 2019.
Properties typically remained on the market for 21 days in November, seasonally even with October and down from 38 days in November 2019. Seventy-three percent of homes sold in November 2020 were on the market for less than a month.
“The positive momentum that home sellers are seeing will carry on well into the new year,” Yun predicted, citing low mortgage rates and remote-work flexibilities.
First-time buyers were responsible for 32% of sales in November, equal to the percentage seen in both October 2020 and November 2019. NAR’s 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released last month – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 31%.
Individual investors or second-home buyers, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14% of homes in November, identical to the share recorded in October 2020 and a small decline from 16% in October 2019. All-cash sales accounted for 20% of transactions in November, up from 19% in October but unchanged from November 2019.
Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – represented less than 1% of sales in November, equal to October’s percentage but down from 2% in November 2019.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 2.77% in November, down from 2.83% in October. The average commitment rate across all of 2019 was 3.94%.
Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales sat at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.98 million in November, down 2.4% from 6.13 million in October, and up 25.6% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $315,500 in November, up 15.1% from November 2019.
Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 710,000 units in November, down 2.7% from October and up 26.8% from one year ago. The median existing condo price was $271,400 in November, an increase of 9.5% from a year ago.
Median home prices increased at double-digit rates in each of the four major regions from one year ago.
November 2020 saw existing-home sales in the Northeast drop 2.2%, recording an annual rate of 880,000, a 25.7% increase from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $354,100, up 17.4% from November 2019.
Existing-home sales fell 2.5% in the Midwest to an annual rate of 1,590,000 in November, but up 24.2% from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $239,100, a 14.6% increase from November 2019.
Existing-home sales in the South decreased 3.8% to an annual rate of 2.82 million in November, up 25.9% from the same time one year ago. The median price in the South was $270,000, a 15.0% increase from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West were unchanged from last month, recording an annual rate of 1,400,000 in November, a 27.3% increase from a year ago. The median price in the West was $467,600, up 13.8% from November 2019.