U.S. existing home sales lowest since 2010

STORY: U.S. existing home sales plunged to a 12-year low in December, marking the 11th straight monthly decline, the longest stretch since 1999.

That's according to the National Association of Realtors, which said on Friday that existing home sales fell one-and-a-half percent last month.

It caps a terrible year for home resales, which fell nearly 18% in 2022 to the lowest level since 2014.

Sales dropped in the Northeast, South and Midwest. They were unchanged in the West.

The Federal Reserve's interest rate-hiking cycle – the fastest since the 1980s - has pushed housing into a recession.

As for new homes, single-family homebuilding rebounded in December but, outside of a plunge during the health crisis, dropped to its lowest level in nearly seven years.

But the worst of the housing market rout is probably behind us. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate retreated to an average 6.15% this week, the lowest since mid-September, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac.

But it remains well above the 3.56% average during the same period last year.

The median existing house price increased from a year earlier to $366,900 in December. While still the highest median price for any December, it was the smallest price gain since May of 2020. That, experts say, together with the pullback in mortgage rates, should help to improve affordability.