Existing-Home Sales Rise in October

US Existing Home Sales Rise More Than Expected in October

Existing-home sales increased in all four major regions of the country month over month, up 4.2 percent in the Northeast, 0.8 percent in the Midwest, 1.9 percent in the South and 2.4 percent in the West. Sales were either unchanged or lower on a year-over-year basis in three of the four regions (Northeast, unchanged; Midwest, down 1.5 percent; and South, down 1.8 percent) except for the West, where they inched up 0.8 percent. The number of homes for sale stood at 69,321 in October, a decrease of 6.6 percent compared to October 2016.

October's sales data recorded a two percent rise to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million from a downwardly revised 5.37 million in September.

Yun added that there were still residual effects on sales from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but that he expected sales to completely bounce back in Texas and Florida because demand was "very strong" before the storms.

Economists said a tax overhaul could inject additional volatility into the market in the coming months. Existing home sales make up about 90 percent of US home sales.

The data helps to gauge the strength of the USA housing market and is considered to be a key indicator of overall economic strength. Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed allowing interest payment deductions on mortgage debt only up to $500,000, and only on a primary residence. The south, however remains "the weakest link when it comes to existing home sales in the nation", said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for the financial firm MUFG.

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Meanwhile, U.S. stock markets traded higher after the open. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies while prices for U.S. Treasuries rose.

Home sales don't seem to be slowing down as October recorded the fastest pace of sales since June, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The year-to-date (Jan. 1 - October 31) sales total of 111,072 was 2.5-percent above the same period last year.

The October 2017 sales total of 12,178 represents an increase of 3.7 percent from the October 2016 total of 11,741. "Buyers who are in the market now are usually looking for smaller properties that tend to cost less", says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com®. Supply was down 10.4 percent from a year ago. A six-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand. The statewide median sales price grew by 9.1 percent in October compared to October 2016.

However, median prices were still up 5.5% year-over-year. In contrast, annual wage growth has struggled to break above 2.9 percent since the 2007/09 recession ended. The reluctance of owners to put their homes on the market given the lack of inventory is one reason for low sales. Builders are putting up more expensive houses to maximize profits. This was in contrary to a modest decline to 5.35 million units, stated Barclays in a research report.



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