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Existing Home Sales Fall Unexpectedly

But prices rose and inventories declined in December


home for saleHome sales dipped last month, surprising economists.

Data released on Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors showed that existing home sales were down 1% in December, hitting a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million homes. Economists had anticipated a rate of 5.1 million units, Reuters noted.

Homebuilders Hedge Their Bets for 2013
Homebuilders Hedge Their Bets for 2013

Despite the drop, existing home sales still scored their second-highest annual sales pace in three years. Existing home inventories also declined to 1.82 million, down 8.5% compared to November, and down 21.6% from December 2011.

At the current sales pace, it would take 4.4 months to deplete the current supply of existing homes.

Prices for existing homes in December rose 11.5% over the prior year to a median of $180,800. Sales of distressed properties rose from 22% in November to 24% last month, but that was still less than the 32% of sales in December 2011.

The news didn’t do much to help homebuilder stocks. Shares of Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) and Ryland Group (NYSEL:RYL) slipped fractionally in Tuesday midday trading, while D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) shares fell more than 1%.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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