After tumbling to the lowest level since June, December existing home sales soared to their highest SAAR since Feb 2018
Existing home sales roise 3.6% MoM in December (rebounding from the 1.7% drop in November and well above the 1.5% jump expected).
At 5.54mm SAAR, this is the highest in almost 2 years.
The median sales price climbed 7.8% from a year earlier, the most since January 2016, to $274,500 as inventories declined for a seventh-straight month.
Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.40 million units, down 14.6% from November and 8.5% from one year ago (1.53 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in both November and December 2018. Unsold inventory totals have dropped for seven consecutive months from year-ago levels, taking a toll on home sales.
“America is facing a dire housing shortage condition,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said at a briefing in Washington.
“We need to build more.”
Looking across 2019, existing-home sales grew at a 5.34 million pace, the same as 2018.
Three of four major regions saw gains from the prior month, led by a 5.7% rise in the Northeast. The Midwest posted a modest decline.
First-time buyers made up 31% of sales, down slightly from 32% the previous month.
As CNBC's Diana Olick noted, soaring prices are creating fears that eventually, buyers will be "choked out of the market."