WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. home sales rose for a third straight month in November, but supply remained tight, keeping house prices high and crowding out first-time buyers.
Sales of existing homes rose 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.46 million units last month, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Sales increased in the most affordable Midwestern region and in the densely populated South as well as in the West. They were unchanged in the Northeast.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales reaching a rate of 6.52 million units. Home resales, which account for the bulk of US home sales, fell 2.0% on an annual basis.
Strong housing demand is being driven by both individual buyers and investors, who renovate and then resell homes to take advantage of the booming housing market. But supply lagged, which kept house prices high.
There is a record backlog of homes cleared for construction but not yet started, according to government data released last week. Builders are grappling with labor shortages, expensive materials and delays in procurement.
The median price of existing homes rose 13.9% from a year earlier to $353,900 in November. Rising prices and rising mortgage rates could dampen demand somewhat next year.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.12% last week, down from 3.10% the previous week, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac.
A report from the Mortgage Bankers Association released on Wednesday showed the volume of mortgage applications fell to the lowest in nearly two years last week due to a 3% drop in loan applications for the purchase of homes. ‘a house.
The Federal Reserve said last week it would end its pandemic-era bond purchases in March and pave the way for interest rate hikes of three-quarters of a percentage point by the end of 2022.
There were 1.11 million previously owned homes on the market last month, down 13.3% from a year ago.
At the rate of November sales, it would take 2.1 months to deplete current inventory, compared to 2.3 months a year ago. A six to seven month supply is considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.
Properties generally remained on the market for 18 days last month, compared to 21 days a year ago. Eighty-three percent of homes sold had been on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers accounted for 26% of sales last month, up from 32% a year ago. This is the lowest level since January 2014.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)
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