Decline in existing home sales slows

7.3% year-over-year decrease in November is the lowest recorded by the National Association of Realtors so far this year

WASHINGTON — Existing home sales fell 7.3% in November compared to November 2022, while they rose nearly 1% from October, ending five months of consecutive declines.

The year-over-year decline also has dropped significantly from previous months this year, to roughly half the 14.6% year-over-year decline in October and also significantly less than the consecutive double-digit year-over-year declines reported since January (down 36.9%) through September (down 15.4%).

For retailers, this change could bode well as more homes are selling, creating opportunities for people to move into other homes — new or existing — which will in turn likely spur some furniture buying activity.

The National Association of Realtors reported that November existing home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.82 million, which was .8% higher than the 3.79 million reported in October, and 7.3% lower than the 4.12 million in November 2022.

The existing home sale figures include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. The NAR said that all four regions of the country experienced year-over-year declines, while sales rose in the Midwest and South but fell in the Northeast and West Coast compared to October activity.

The NAR also reported that the median existing home price for all housing types in November rose 4% to $387,600 from $372,000 in November 2022, the fifth consecutive year-over-year price increase, with all four regions of the country posting gains. This coincides with a drop in inventory, with 1.13 million units on the market, down 1.7% from October. However the inventory was still up .9% from 1.12 million units last year.

According to the NAR, there is a 3.5-month supply of homes based on the amount of unsold inventory, compared to 3.3 months in November 2022, but down from 3.6 months in October.

“Home prices keep marching higher,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. “Only a dramatic rise in supply will dampen price appreciation.”

Of future sales activity, he added that a “marked turn can be expected as mortgage rates have plunged in recent weeks.”

For example, the report noted that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.95% as of Dec. 14, which it said was the first time it fell below 7% since Aug. 10. It was down from 7.03% from the prior week but up from 6.31% a year ago.

The report went on to note that single-family home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.41 million units in November, which was up .9% from 3.38 million in October but down 7.3% from November 2022. The median existing home sale price was $392,000 in November, which was up 3.5% from November 2022.

Meanwhile, existing condominium and co-op sales totaled 410,000 units in November, unchanged from October, but down 6.8% from last year. The median existing condo price was $350,100 in November compared to $322,400 in November 2022, an 8.6% increase.

By region, activity was as follows:

+ In the Northeast, existing home sales totaled 470,000 in November, down 2.1% from October and down 13% from November 2022. The median price was $428,600, up 4.8% from November 2022.

+ In the Midwest, there were 940,000 existing homes sold, which was up 1.1% from October, but down 8.7% from November 2022. The median price in the region rose 4.9% from November 2022 to $280,800.

+ In the South, there were 1.77 million homes sold in November, up 4.7% from October, but down 4.3% compared to the prior year. The median sales price was $351,500, up 3.4% from November 2022.

+ In the West, November existing home sales decreased 7.2% from October to 640,000, and were down 8.6% from November 2022. The median sales price here rose to $603,200, up 5.3% from November 2022.

Other takeaways from the report were as follows:

+ Properties typically remained on the market for 25 days in November, up from 23 days in October and 24 days in November 2022. Some 62% of the homes sold in November were on the market for less than a month.

+ First-time buyers represented 31% of sales in November, up from 28% in October and November 2022.

+ All-cash sales represented 27% of the sales in November, which was down from 29% in October and up from 26% in November 2022. Individual investors, or second-home buyers that make up many cash sales, purchased 18% of the homes in November, up from 15% in October and 14% in November 2022.  

+ Distressed sales, including foreclosures and short sales, represented 1% of sales in November, unchanged from October and November 2022.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

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