Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

November Home Resales Drop

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

November Home Resales Drop

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- U.S. home resales fell in November after breaking records for three consecutive months, industry figures showed Monday.

Resales declined 0.2 percent last month to an annual rate of 4.380 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. The figures represent closings, which lag contract signings by a few months.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News expected sales of existing homes to fall by 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.360 million during the month. Resales fell 1.6 percent in the Northeast and 2.7 percent Midwest regions. They rose 1.8 percent in the South and were unchanged in the West. "Up until November, we had three consecutive phenomenal months," said NAR President Lane Morrill. "It was a matter of time before we saw some downward trend, however slight. We expect a continued slowdown in the coming months, though nothing dramatic." November's drop was to be expected after sales set records in August, September and October. Still, that doesn't signal that the housing market is weakening, analysts said. Home resales make up about 85 percent of all U.S. single-family home sales. In October, sales increased a revised 1.9 percent to an annual pace of 4.390 million units, previously reported as a 2.1 percent gain. Investors and analysts watch for housing gains because they ripple through the economy in the form of demand for furniture, appliances and other items that keep factories, wholesalers and retailers busy. Indeed, catalog sales at Williams-Sonoma, which includes the Pottery Barn, Hold Everything and Williams-Sonoma catalogs, are running roughly 12 percent above last year this holiday season, according to analysts at BancAmerica Robertson, Stephens. That's about three times the gain expected for the overall retail industry. There are signs demand has room to grow, too. An industry survey showed builders are more optimistic than at any time this year, and inventories of new and used homes are lean. Those who believe the housing market has room to grow point first to low interest rates and high employment. "Mortgage rates are raising affordability and jobs are lifting confidence," IndoSuez Carr Futures economist Susan Hering said before the report. …

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