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US home sales drop for ninth month amid rising prices

By AFP
18 November 2022   |   3:10 pm
US existing home sales slid for a ninth straight month in October, as rising mortgage rates squeezed affordability, according to industry data released Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A packet of U.S. five-dollar bills. REUTERS/Gary Cameron<br />

US existing home sales slid for a ninth straight month in October, as rising mortgage rates squeezed affordability, according to industry data released Friday.

As US inflation has soared to the highest levels in recent decades, the Federal Reserve has embarked on an aggressive campaign this year to cool the world’s biggest economy.

Those rapid interest rate hikes have boosted borrowing costs, with an immediate impact on the key housing market, which exploded in recent years amid the pandemic.

Sales of all types of homes and condos slid 5.9 percent last month compared to September, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said in its latest report.

The sales pace slowed to an annual rate of 4.4 million, seasonally adjusted, 28.4 percent below October 2021.

“More potential homebuyers were squeezed out from qualifying for a mortgage in October as mortgage rates climbed,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said.

The median home price was $379,100 last month, down from a record high in June but still well above the same period a year ago as prices rose in all regions.

Yun said the impact is greater in expensive areas and in markets that saw “significant home price gains in recent years.”

With the inventory of homes on the market still tight, nearly a quarter of sales were for more than the asking price, Yun said.

The US housing market took off during the pandemic as Americans flush with savings capitalized on bargain lending rates, helping buoy the economy.

But average mortgage costs jumped to 6.9 percent last month, according to home loan finance company Freddie Mac, more than double the rate in 2021.

“Affordability has been crushed by the surge in mortgage rates,” Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a recent analysis.

While sales have slumped, prices have only recently started to drop, “home prices have much further to fall… given the scale of the collapse in demand,” he said.

Existing home sales comprise 90 percent of the US real estate market.

All four major regions in the country saw sales declines last month, NAR said.