U.S. Existing Home Sales Hit Multi-Year High in FY12; Inventories Remain Low Into FY13

January 22, 2013 3:30 PM EST Send to a Friend
Sales of existing homes in the U.S. fell in December, but managed to eke out the biggest annual gain since 2004.

According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors, home sales slipped one percent from November to December to an annual run rate of 4.94 million. The number compares with consensus views calling for a 5.1 million run rate. Despite the drop, it was still the highest level since November 2009 and was a 13 percent jump over the same period last year.

For 2012, the NAR estimates that about 4.65 million existing homes were sold, a gain of 9.2 percent from 2011. The number was second only to annual sales of 5.04 million reported in 2007.

An analyst from PNC commented to Blomberg following the release that he suspects the market for buyers and sellers if flattening and home prices may show some gains in 2013.

The number of homes for sale fell to 1.82 millio nunits at the end of December, down 8.5 percent from the prior year. Year-over-year sales gains may become a little more challenging in 2013 as inventory levels continue to ebb.

Amid the news today, homebuilders are mixed. PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM), Ryland Group Inc. (NYSE: RYL), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH), and M.D.C. Holdings (NYSE: MDC) are higher, while NVR, Inc. (NYSE: NVR), DR Horton (NYSE: DHI), and Honanian Enterprises (NYSE: HOV) are lower.

Also notably higher on the session are Radian Group (NYSE: RDN), MGIC Investment (NYSE: MGIC), and Assure Guaranty (NYSE: AGO), which may have see a jump in business as more mortgages may have been issued to foster sales.


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