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Existing-Home Sales, Prices Tumble Again

Existing-home sales fell 8.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.49 million units in November, down from 4.91 million in October and 10.6 percent below the 5.02 million units in November 2007, NAR reported yesterday. Sales declined in all four U.S. regions, and they have now reached their slowest pace in more than 17 years.

The national median existing-home sale price for all housing types was $181,300 in November, down 13.2 percent from a year ago when the median was $208,800. The decline is the largest amount on record, and prices have reached their lowest level since February 2004. Total housing inventory rose 0.1 percent in November to 4.20 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 11.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 10.3-month supply in October.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says the declines were expected. “The quickly deteriorating conditions in the job market, the stock market, and consumer confidence in October and November have knocked down home sales to another level,” he says. However, sales activity is improving in some California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida markets. “Sales are rising only in areas with large numbers of distressed properties as bargain hunters take advantage of discounted home prices.”

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