Total existing-home sales, or completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, decreased 1.5% from November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.02 million in December, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Year over year, sales sagged 34%, down from 6.09 million in December 2021.
“December was another difficult month for buyers, who continue to face limited inventory and high mortgage rates,” says NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “However, expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”
Total housing inventory at the end of December was 970,000 units, which was down 13.4% from November but up 10.2% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 2.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.3 months in November but up from 1.7 months in December 2021.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $366,900, an increase of 2.3% from December 2021. This marks 130 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record, according to the NAR.
“Home prices nationwide are still positive, though mildly,” adds Yun. “Markets in roughly half of the country are likely to offer potential buyers discounted prices compared to last year.”
Properties typically remained on the market for 26 days in December, up from 24 days in November and 19 days in December 2021. Fifty-seven percent of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 31% of sales in December, up from 28% in November and 30% in December 2021.
All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions in December, up from 26% in November and 23% in December 2021. Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 16% of homes in December, up from 14% in November but down from 17% in December 2021. Foreclosures and short sales represented only 1% of sales in December, virtually unchanged from last month and one year ago.
“Cash buyers are unaffected by fluctuations in mortgage rates and were able to take advantage of lower prices in some areas,” says Yun.
Single-family home sales declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.60 million in December, down 1.1% from 3.64 million in November and 33.5% from the previous year. The median existing single-family home price was $372,700 in December, up 2% from last year.
Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 420,000 units in December, down 4.5% from November and 38.2% from one year ago. The median existing condo price was $317,200 in December, an annual increase of 3.3%.
Three of the four major U.S. regions recorded month-over-month drops, while sales in the West were unchanged. All regions experienced year-over-year declines.
Sales in the Northeast slid 1.9% from November to an annual rate of 520,000 in December, down 28.8% from December 2021. The median price in the Northeast was $391,400, an increase of 1.6% from the prior year.
In the Midwest, sales fell 1% from the previous month to an annual rate of 1.01 million in December, falling 30.3% from one year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $262,000, up 2.9% from December 2021.
Existing-home sales in the South slipped 2.2% in December to an annual rate of 1.80 million, a 33.1% decrease from the previous year. The median price was $337,900, an increase of 3.5% from this time last year.
At an annual rate of 690,000, existing-home sales in the West were unchanged from November but down 43.4% from one year ago. The median price in the West was $557,900, an increase of $200, or less than a tenth of a percent from December 2021.