Existing-Home Sales Post First Annual Drop in 29 Months

Updated from 10:31 a.m. ET with additional commentary.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Existing-home sales declined by more than 4% in November, missing estimates, and posted the first annual decline in nearly two-and-a-half years.

The National Association of Realtors said sales of previously owned homes declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.90 million units from 5.12 million in October. This is the lowest level since April.

Economists on average expected the annualized sales pace for November to come in at 5.02 million units, according to consensus estimates from Bloomberg.

Existing-home sales are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services (MLS). Existing-home sales account for more than 90% of total U.S. home sales.

November sales were down 1.2% on a year-over-year basis, the first annual decline in 29 months.

The decline in sales came even as inventory of homes available for sale expanded. The supply of existing homes available for sale declined 0.9% to 2.09 million units in November, representing 5.1 months supply compared to 4.9 in October. Year over year, inventory is actually up 5%, a sign that supply conditions are slowly easing.

The median time on the market for all homes was 56 days in November, up from 54 in October but still well below 70 days a year earlier.

Still, inventory conditions remain relatively tight compared to demand, and the national median price for homes is up more than 9% year over year at $196,300.

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