Sales of existing homes inched up 0.4% in November from the prior month, while the inventory of homes on the market moderated slightly.
The National Association of Realtors said Monday that existing-home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 million units, above the upwardly revised pace of 4.98 million units in October. The results were in line with economists' expectations.
The sales were 20% below the year-ago rate of 6.25 million units.
Total housing inventory fell 3.6% at the end of the month, representing 10.3 months of supply at the current sales pace. That's down from a 10.7-month supply in October.
A glut of homes on the market has hammered homebuilders, as an oversupply brings down prices and forces builders to record impairment charges. In November, the national median existing-home price was $210,200, down 3.3% from a year earlier.
On Friday, the Census Bureau said new-home sales for November tumbled a worse-than-expected 9% from the prior month, while inventories reached record levels.
New-home sales -- which make up a much smaller portion of the housing market -- are based on home contracts, while existing-home sales are based on closings. Since closings lag contracts by a few months, the new-home figure is more of a current demand indicator. The new-home data, however, doesn't take into account contract cancellations, making the numbers less reliable.
This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.