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To cap off 2019, existing-home sales tracked up, according to the December National Association of REALTORS® report this week. December’s adjusted annualized rate of sales totaled 5.54 million, climbing 3.6 percent month-over-month and 10.8 percent year-over-year.

Credit: National Association of REALTORS®

Across all house types (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome), the median price was $274,500—a 7.8 percent increase year-over-year, according to the report. The median price for sales in the single-family space was $276,900, while the condo median was $255,400.

By region:

Existing-Home Sales: 1.3 million (+9.2% YoY)
Median Price: $208,500 (+9.2% YoY)

Existing-Home Sales: 740,000 (+8.8% YoY)
Median Price: $304,400 (+7.4% YoY)

Existing-Home Sales: 2.36 million (+12.4% YoY)
Median Price: $240,500 (+6.7% YoY)

Existing-Home Sales: 1.14 million (+10.7% YoY)
Median Price: $411,800 (+8.1% YoY)

Currently, inventory is at a 3.0-month supply, the report shows. In December, the average existing-home listing was on the market for 41 days, five days less than the previous year. Of December homes sold, 43 percent were on the market for less than one month.

Of December’s adjusted annualized rate of sales, 4.92 million were single-family, while condo and co-op sales totaled 620,000. Twenty percent of sales were all-cash, and 17 percent by individual investors or second homebuyers. Two percent were distressed. First-time homebuyers comprised 31 percent of sales, aligning with the overall trend for 2019, 33 percent.

“I view 2019 as a neutral year for housing in terms of sales,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, says. “Home sellers are positioned well, but prospective buyers aren’t as fortunate. Low inventory remains a problem, with first-time buyers affected the most.”

“NAR is expecting 2020 to be a great year for housing,” NAR President Vince Malta says. “Our leadership team is hard at work to secure policies that will keep our housing market moving in the right direction, like promoting infrastructure reform, strengthening fair housing protections and ensuring mortgage capital remains available to responsible, mortgage-ready Americans.”

On the report, Mike Fratantoni, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in a statement: “We expect that home sales will rise in 2020, as additional new housing construction has come onto the market, and the job market remains strong and mortgage rates are low. Typically, the inventory of homes on the market drops at the end of the year; however, the supply of existing homes is now at a record low, and this will constrain the pace of sales this spring from being even stronger, [but] the recent gains in new-home construction is a positive, as the total inventory on the market will allow prospective buyers to find properties.”

Bill Banfield, chief risk officer at Quicken Loans, said in a statement: “Low interest rates in 2019 helped buyers make the leap to purchase more existing homes. While December’s jump in home construction is positive as well, it will not sufficiently meet the demand likely to occur in 2020. This will continue to push prices upwards, stretching first-time buyers, who make up nearly a third of the market.”

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