Source: Mansion Global —
U.S. existing-home sales fell last year to their lowest level since 2014, as surging mortgage rates made home purchases too expensive for many buyers.
Sales of previously owned homes, which make up most of the housing market, slid 17.8% in 2022 from the prior year to 5.03 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. On a monthly basis, sales fell 1.5% in December from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.02 million, the weakest rate since November 2010. December sales fell 34% from a year earlier.
December marked the 11th straight monthly decrease, the longest streak of declines on record in data going back to 1999, NAR said.
The housing market’s rapid slowdown last year was spurred by the Federal Reserve’s effort to cool the economy and curb inflation by raising interest rates. Mortgage-interest rates climbed from about 3.1% at the end of 2021 to 7.08%, a two-decade high, in October. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage declined to 6.15% this week, the lowest rate since September.
Other parts of the economy have also shown signs of cooling. Retail spending fell in December at the sharpest pace of 2022. Hiring and wage growth also eased last month and U.S. commerce with the rest of the world declined significantly in November.
Monthly costs for prospective home buyers rose by hundreds of dollars or more, prompting many to cut their budgets or stop shopping altogether. In October, NAR’s measure of housing affordability fell to its lowest level since September 1985, before increasing slightly in November.
“Mortgage rates have fallen over these past few weeks, so I’m very hopeful that the worst in home sales is probably coming to an end,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
Home prices have slid from their springtime peaks and are lower than a year ago in some markets, including California, Phoenix, and Austin, Texas, according to local real-estate groups.
The national median existing-home price rose 2.3% in December from a year earlier to $366,900, NAR said. Prices fell month-over-month for the sixth straight month after reaching a record high of $413,800 in June.