By Greg Robb
The numbers: Existing-home sales fell 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million in October, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. Compared with October 2021, home sales were down 28.4%.
Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had expected a decrease to 4.37 million units.
The level of sales is the lowest since December 2011 excluding the 2020 pandemic.
This is also the ninth straight monthly decline in sales, the longest streak on record.
Key details: The median price for an existing home was $379,100 up 6.6% from October 2021.
But price gains are decelerating. Prices were up over 20% on a year-on-year basis earlier this year.
Housing inventory fell 0.8% to 1.22 million units in October. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.3-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 3.1 months in September and 2.4 months a year ago.
A 6-month supply of homes is generally viewed as indicative of a balanced market.
Sales declined in all regions of the country.
Big picture: Home sales have dropped as mortgage rates have risen sharply and affordability has dropped.
Softer inflation data in October have led to a drop in mortgage rates, which could lead for a floor on sales.
At the same time, Federal Reserve officials may pencil in a “peak” interest rate above 5% at the policy meeting next month.
Economists see home prices have further to fall in this market.
What the NAR is saying: Home sales have been very low and the softness could continue for a few months. But sales could pick up early next year if the mortgage rate has peaked, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR.
Market reaction: Stocks opened lower on Friday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.79%.