WASHINGTON Dec 19 U.S. home resales fell
sharply in November to their lowest level in nearly a year, hurt
by a rise in interest rates since the spring and ongoing price
increases that have shut some home buyers out of the market.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Thursday
that sales of previously owned homes dropped 4.3 percent last
month, the third monthly fall in a row, to an annual rate of
4.90 million units.
That was the lowest annual rate since December 2012, and
well below the median forecast in a Reuters poll of a 5.03
million unit pace.
"It is a clear loss in momentum for home sales," NAR
economist Lawrence Yun told reporters.
Mortgage interest rates have risen sharply since May on
expectations the Federal Reserve would start winding down a
bond-buying economic stimulus program. The Fed announced on
Wednesday it would start tapering its monthly bond purchases
Yun said the rise in mortgage rates, coupled with
fast-rising prices, had made home buying less affordable for
The data carried a hint, however, that home price gains may
be cooling off. The median price nationwide rose 9.4 percent in
November from the same month in 2012 to $196,300. It was the
first time in a year that prices didn't rise at a double-digit
Yun said the NAR was "very concerned" about plans by the
Federal Housing Finance Agency to reduce the maximum size of
mortgages which can be bought by taxpayer-owned finance giants
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He said this could further impede
the housing market's recovery.