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Housing Market Excels

Overview: Growing concern about rising coronavirus case counts around the world was negative for stocks over the past week, but mortgage markets remained relatively quiet with rates near record-low levels.


The housing sector’s impressive rebound from the spring decline continues to gain momentum. In September, sales of previously owned (existing) homes, which make up about 90% of the market, rose significantly more than expected to the highest level since 2006 and were 21% higher than a year ago. National median existing-home prices were up 15% from a year ago.

Inventory levels were down 19% from a year ago and remained the primary trouble spot. The number of homes for sale was at just a 2.7-month supply nationally, well below the 6-month supply that is considered a healthy balance between buyers and sellers.

After four straight months of solid gains, new-home sales, which account for the remaining 10% of the market, declined 4% in September. Despite this small dip, however, they were still a massive 32% higher than a year ago.

Several factors have helped boost home sales activity over the last few months, including record-low mortgage rates and pent-up demand from March and April when many people were reluctant to buy or sell a home. In addition, the pandemic has caused many people to seek larger homes and less densely packed regions.


Existing Home Sales (millions)

Week Ahead

October 29 — Third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP)

October 30 — Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index

November 2 — Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index

November 5 — U.S. Federal Reserve meeting

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