(The Center Square) - Sales of existing homes fell 17.8 percent in 2022, marking the weakest sales performance since 2014 as interest rates climbed.
Interest rates rose quickly last year, a factor that weighed on the residential real estate market. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.15 percent as of Jan. 19, down from 6.33 percent last week, but up from 3.56 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.
Sales of previously owned homes declined 17.8 percent last year from 2021 to 5.03 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. Previously owned homes account for most home sales.
Existing-home sales dropped for the 11th consecutive month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.02 million. Sales fell 1.5 percent from November and 34.0 percent from one year ago.
"December was another difficult month for buyers, who continue to face limited inventory and high mortgage rates," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. "However, expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year."
The median existing-home sales price climbed 2.3 percent from the previous year to $366,900. It marked 130 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.
"Home prices nationwide are still positive, though mildly," Yun said. "Markets in roughly half of the country are likely to offer potential buyers discounted prices compared to last year."
The annual share of first-time home buyers was 26 percent, the lowest since the association began tracking the data.