Home sales up 34 percent from recession-low

NAR also releases four years worth of revised data, after finding an error in previous calculations

Dec.December 21, 2011 01:55 PM

Existing home sales increased 4 percent in November, according to a report released today by the National Association of Realtors, which also revised four years worth of data the organization previously announced was errant.

NAR downwardly revised existing home sales statistics dating back to 2007 by more than 14 percent. The association said the bad data stemmed from a previously unnoticed increase in the number of people that use brokers, and therefore an unaccounted for change in the market share that the multiple listing services throughout the country capture. Since 2000 the number of sellers that use brokers increased to 91 percent from 84 percent, according to NAR. The association said their data revisions should have a “minor impact” on revisions to Gross Domestic Product reports.

As for November’s report, the NAR reported a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.42 million home sales, a 4 percent gain from October and 12.2 percent above November 2010’s rate. Sales reached their highest mark in 10 months and are 34 percent above the valley reached in mid-2010.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun attributed the positive report to the record-low mortgage rates and bargain housing prices. Though financing does remain a problem, NAR President Moe Veissi said the association’s affordability index shows that “a median-income family can easily afford a median-priced home.”

The median home price in November was down 3.5 percent from a year ago to $164,200. Consistent with recent levels, investors purchased 19 percent of homes in November and first-time buyers accounted for 35 percent of transactions.

The Northeast posted the largest regional month-over-month sales gain, at 9.8 percent, followed by the Midwest, at 4.3 percent, the West, at 3.6 percent, and the South, at 2.4 percent. Year-over-year, however, the Midwest posted the biggest gain, followed by the South, West and then Northeast. — Adam Fusfeld

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Existing U.S. home sales, prices rise while inventory falls from last year