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Existing-Home Sales Expected to Flatten in November

rowofhomesA new forecast of existing-home sales calls for a mostly flat sales rate in November following a better than expected boost in October.

The latest Nowcast report, powered by Google data and released Monday by Auction.com, projects existing-home sales for November will fall between seasonally adjusted annual rates of 5.05 million and 5.46 million units, with a targeted number of 5.25 million sales.

For October, Auction.com forecast a sales rate of 5.18 million, slightly lower than the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) tally of 5.26 million. Economists had projected a consensus sales rate of 5.15 million for the month.

With its latest forecast, Auction.com predicts little change in the pace of sales from October to November, marking a departure from seasonal trends. If the company's estimate is correct, November would also mark the second month this year in which existing-home sales beat out last year's figures.

"The housing market, while not growing rapidly, is at least maintaining its current momentum rather than taking a step backwards," said Rick Sharga, EVP at Auction.com. "It's encouraging to see sales activity hold steady, or improve even marginally, considering all the headwinds the market is facing—tight credit, low inventory, less investor activity and relatively weak demand."

While investors still have an active role in the housing market's recovery, they've been less involved in recent months as home price trends in many areas drive away interest. According to NAR's latest estimates, all-cash sales—typically made by investors—accounted for 27 percent of total sales in October, up from 24 percent in September but down from 31 percent last year.

At the same time, the share of first-time homebuyers was just 29 percent last month, hovering near its lowest level in decades.

The issue of tight credit—a major hurdle for young homebuyers today—is made worse by the fact that homes in the most affordable price tier are coming to market slower than those in higher price segments.

"Less than six-month's inventory—and very little at the entry level of the market—coupled with tight credit make it extremely challenging for new buyers," Sharga said. "And neither situation is likely to improve soon."

About Author: Tory Barringer

Tory Barringer began his journalism career in early 2011, working as a writer for the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper before joining the DS News team in 2012. In addition to contributing to DSNews.com, he is also the online editor for DS News' sister publication, MReport, which focuses on mortgage banking news.
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