The housing downturn continued apace with existing home sales falling 7.7 percent in November from the month before, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The data marks the 10th straight month of falling sales, and a 35.4 percent year-over-year decline for a market that just last year was red-hot.
Once again, the culprit is clear: rising mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.31 percent as of last week, according to Freddie Mac. That marks a slight decline from the week prior but a doubling from last year.
"In essence, the residential real estate market was frozen in November, resembling the sales activity seen during the COVID-19 economic lockdowns in 2020," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "The principal factor was the rapid increase in mortgage rates, which hurt housing affordability and reduced incentives for homeowners to list their homes."
He added that available housing inventory remains near historic lows, affirming the narrative that the United States is facing a structural shortage of homes, even as the market grinds to a halt and delays much-needed increases in supply.
Relatedly, the drop-off in sales has yet to significantly bring down prices. The median existing home price, which includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, is now $370,700 — up 3.5 percent from last year.
However, prices did fall 2.2 percent month-over-month.
"For most of this year, prospective home buyers have faced the dual challenges of elevated mortgage rates and limited housing inventory," said NAR President Kenny Parcell, from Spanish Fork, Utah, and broker-owner of Equity Real Estate Utah.