US existing-home sales rise in October


Washington (AFP)

US sales of existing homes rose in October at the highest annual pace in nearly a decade, pointing to an autumn revival in the housing market, industry figures showed Tuesday.

Total existing home sales, including condos, condominiums and single-family houses, grew two percent month-over-month to 5.6 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The result beat an analyst consensus forecast of 5.4 million units. The pace of sales for the month was also 5.9 percent above the same point in 2015, making it the fastest since February 2007.

First-time buyers continued to account for roughly a third of sales at 33 percent, according to the NAR data. The median sale price was $232,200, six percent above October 2015, marking the 56th consecutive month of year-on-year gains.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the widespread national gains suggested tight supply had kept consumer demand pent up during the summer months, when sales dipped.

"Buyers are having more success lately despite low inventory and prices that continue to swiftly rise above incomes," Yun said in a statement, noting that low mortgage rates had also supported demand.

"The good news is that the tightening labor market is beginning to push up wages and the economy has lately shown signs of greater expansion."

Total inventory for the month fell 0.5 percent to 2.02 million homes for sale, down 4.3 percent over the same point last year and marking a steady decline.

The Commerce Department reported last week that new home construction starts were up sharply for October at 25.5 percent.

Yun said the gain in housing starts was a sign that supply could rise enough to give buyers choices while maintaining moderate price growth.