Sales of previously owned homes fell by 3.5 percent in November, but even with the decline sales racked up the sixth highest monthly level on record and are on track for the best-ever year for all of 2002. Existing-home sales slipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.56 million in November, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported. The 3.5-percent decline followed a brisk 5.9-percent sales increase in October. Even with the drop in November, sales are running 5.9-percent higher than for the same month last year.
The housing market performed extremely well during the recession and has been doing well this year, thanks to low mortgage rates.
Sales of both existing homes and new homes are expected to register their best year in 2002, surpassing previous records set in 2001, economists said. "For all of 2002, we’ll easily surpass the record of 5.3 million sales in 2001, with sales topping the 5.5 million level," said David Lereah, chief economist for NAR.
By region, sales of existing homes in the Midwest fell 3.9 percent in November from the previous month to a rate of 1.22 million. In the South, sales dropped 4.8 percent to a rate of 2.20 million and in the Northeast sales went down 5.9 percent to a pace of 640,000. In the West, sales were flat at a rate of 1.50 million. Looking ahead to 2003, "the housing market will be settling into a somewhat slower but historically healthy pace," said Cathy Whatley, president of NAR. (Associated Press)
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