October existing home sales hit fastest pace since January

Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes ticked higher in October, marking their strongest pace since January even as competition for relatively few properties on the market pushed prices higher.

Existing homes sales rose 0.8% last month from September to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.34 million units, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That was stronger than the 6.18 million units that economists had been expecting, according to FactSet.

Sales fell 5.8% from October last year, when they peaked following a summer and fall surge as buyers who had held off during the early days of the pandemic jumped back into the market.

“It looks like the housing market is remaining strong, resilient and one may even say, (had) something like a mini surge, not the big one we saw last year,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist.

Continued job growth, a stock market at all-time highs and rising, but still historically low mortgage rates are helping to drive home sales, Yun said.

The median home price jumped to $353,900, a 13.1% increase from October last year.

Homes continue to sell within days of being put up for sale. Homes typically remained on the market 18 days before getting snapped up last month. That follows a six-month streak of homes typically selling after 17 days on the market. In a market that’s more evenly balanced between buyers and sellers, homes typically remain on the market 45 days.

At the end of October, the inventory of unsold homes stood at just 1.25 million homes for sale, down 12% from a year ago. At the current sales pace, that amounts to a 2.4 months’ supply, the NAR said.

By ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writer

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