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US: Sales of existing homes fall for the first time in four months

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Second-hand home sales in the US fell 4.6% month-on-month in December to 6.18 million year-on-year. The December drop reflected both weaker inventory and the beginning of a recovery in mortgage rates, which has since climbed to the highest level since March 2020. The number of properties for sale last month was the lowest on record. Housing stock has curbed US pre-owned home sales at the end of its strongest year since 2006, and the recent rise in mortgage rates risks a further slowdown in purchases.

 

If we look at the sub-items; The average selling price rose 15.8% from a year ago to $358K in December. There were only 910,000 homes for sale last month, down 18% from the previous month and 14.2% from a year ago. At the current rate, it would take 1.8 months for all the homes on the market to sell, which is a record low. Properties were on the market for an average of 19 days last month, compared to 21 days a year ago. Cash sales represented 23% of all transactions last month, while investors accounted for 17% of the market. First-time purchasers in December accounted for 30% of sales. Sales of previously owned single-family homes fell 4.3% to 5.52 million in December. Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 7% last month to 660,000.

 

It would be more rational to link the situation in the housing market to the amount of sales that the Fed will make in MBSs during the balance sheet reduction, rather than directly related to interest rate increases. The increase in mortgage rates will have a slowing effect on house sales. Low mortgage rates kept buyers active in the market and combined with rising building costs during this period had a huge inflationary effect. One of the strictest items in inflation in the US is housing and rent. It is clear that MBSs should be involved in the Fed’s balance sheet reduction, because the housing market is also on the rise, and in fact, inflating demand and rising prices, mortgage rates are also a problem.

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