Just a quick note on the regional data:
Northeast was the worst performer in terms of sales in December.
Seasonally adjusted sales down 1.4% from the prior month and 14.3% from last December. Significantly worse than the -3.5% year-over-year figure seen nationwide.
Median prices in the Northeast are down 7.8% in the past year and average prices are down 7.9%. From a pricing perspective, the Northeast is still showing smaller price declines than other regions on a year over year basis.
Condos and Coops are performing worse than single family homes in the Northeast. Sales of Condos are down 24.4% year over year, and median price is down 9.1%. Over the same period, sales of single family homes are down 9.8%, and the median price is down 8.3%.
Now, you are probably looking at the price breakdown and scratching your head. If condo prices are down 9.1% and SFH prices down 8.3%, why is the overall median price in the Northeast down only 7.8%? This is due to mix-shift. The median is being elevated by significantly fewer sales of lower priced properties. With condo sales down almost 25% year over year, the mix of properties being sold has shifted enough to keep the median higher than it would have been if the mix had not shifted.
Existing-home sales rise 6.5% as prices plunge
For full year, sales fall 13% while prices drop a record 9.3%
Sales of existing homes rose 6.5% in December to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.74 million as prices continued to plunge at a record pace, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.
Sales in December were down 3.5% from the previous December.
For 2008 as a whole, sales fell 13.1% to 4.91 million, the industry trade group said. November and December were the weakest sales months of the year on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The median sales price fell to $175,400 in December, down a record 15.3% compared with a year earlier. For all of 2008, median prices dropped 9.3% to $198,600, the lowest level since 2004.
The price decline is likely the largest since the Great Depression in the 1930s, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the trade group.
About 45% of the transactions in December were considered distress sales, either a short sale or a home in foreclosure. Many foreclosure sales are handled outside the realtors’ system and are not reported in this report.
Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. unexpectedly rose from a record low, propelled by the biggest slump in prices since the Great Depression as foreclosures surged.
Purchases rose 6.5 percent to an annual rate of 4.74 million from 4.45 million in November that was less than previously estimated, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median price dropped 15 percent from a year ago, the biggest decline since records began in 1968 and probably the biggest in seven decades, according to the group.
“You have to put it in the context of an even steeper decline for the previous month,” said David Sloan, a senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York, who had the highest projection in the Bloomberg News survey. “The net trend is still negative. It does seem that some cheap prices are attracting buyers. I don’t think it’s a clear sign of a revival in the housing market. The housing market is very weak.”
Sales were down 3.5 percent compared with a year earlier. Resales averaged 4.91 million in 2008, down 13 percent from 2007 and the fewest in 11 years.