From the WSJ:
The U.S. housing market entered 2016 after a year of strong sales, rising prices and dwindling inventories, factors supporting the economy but also likely to cap future gains for the sector.
Existing-home sales rose 14.7% in December from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. For all of 2015, sales reached 5.26 million, the highest annual level since 2006, underscoring the long slog back from the housing bust.
But new-home construction hasn’t been keeping up with demand, leading to tight supplies and rising prices.
“In addition to insufficient supply levels, the overall pace of sales this year will be constricted by tepid economic expansion, rising mortgage rates and decreasing demand for buying in oil-producing metro areas,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. He is forecasting a meager 1% rise in existing-home sales for all of 2016.
Inventories of existing homes for sale fell 12% to 1.79 million in December. At 3.9 months’ worth of supply, inventories are at the lowest level in nearly a decade, the Realtors’ group said.
The national median home price, meanwhile, rose to $224,100, up 7.6% from a year earlier. That marks the 46th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.