Existing home sales proved stronger-than-expected in October, up 2.0 percent to a 5.480 million annualized rate. Strength shows for both single-family resales, up 2.1 percent to a 4.870 million rate and up 1.7 percent for condos to a 610,000 rate.
Discounting was limited in October with the price median down only 0.2 percent to $247,000 for 5.5 percent year-on-year appreciation. Supply is yet again a negative for resales, falling 3.2 percent to 1.800 million homes on the market. On a sales basis, supply is at a very thin 3.9 months following five straight readings at 4.2 months.
Regional sales data show a sweep of gains led by the Northeast, up 4.2 percent which follows a surprise September burst in this region for sales of new homes. Hurricane effects have been limited in the housing sector but do include a 1.9 percent October rebound in the South following contraction in September and especially August. Sales in the West rose 2.4 percent in October with the Midwest up 0.8 percent. Yet the annual rate for total sales, at minus 0.9 percent, is a reminder that housing still has a ways to go.
The pending home sales index, which tracks initial resale signings, has been flat to negative which adds to the positive surprise of today's report. Housing data struggled through most of the year and the lack of supply will continue to hold back resales, but recent reports have been good and do point to a year-end contribution from the sector.