October Home Sales Likely Fell to New 13-Year Low

High prices and elevated mortgage rates have made home purchases far less affordable

Tuesday’s existing-home-sales report is expected to show that the number of home sales in October fell to a new 13-year low.

  • Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate sales of previously owned homes fell a seasonally adjusted 1.5% in October from September.
  • High home prices and elevated mortgage rates have made home purchases far less affordable for buyers, pushing many out of the market.
  • The National Association of Realtors will release the October existing-home-sales report at 10 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday. 

Even as home-buying demand has slumped, the inventory of homes for sale has stayed low because high rates are making homeowners unwilling to sell and move. The limited supply is a major reason that home prices are rising in much of the U.S. 

Existing-home sales for the full year in 2023 are on track to be the lowest since at least 2011, according to economist forecasts.

Mortgage rates climbed to fresh two-decade highs this fall before falling in recent weeks. Homes typically go under contract a month or two before the contracts close, so the October data largely reflect purchase decisions made in August and September.

While mortgage rates have declined since late October, buyers might have already decided to pause their home searches through the holiday season, said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.

“The surge in rates in October might have caused a lot of households to sort of end their home search for 2023,” she said. “At this point, they might just wait until the spring.” 

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