Sales of previously owned homes, a key indicator for containerized import volume, in November rose 5.7 percent from the previous month but remained at the lowest levels in more than a decade.
Buyers bought homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million, the National Association of Realtors said. The association forecasts that sales for 2010 will be 4.8 million, the lowest number since 1997.
Housing is important to freight transportation not only because it generates shipments of construction materials but because home purchases often lead to purchases of furniture and furnishings – a category that represents 10 percent of U.S. containerized imports.
By The Numbers: Cass Freight Index.
Containerized imports of furniture and furnishings fell in September for the fourth consecutive month, hitting a low for the year, according to PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions, a sister company of The Journal of Commerce. The drop in furniture imports followed the end of homebuyer subsidies that boosted sales in the first half of the year.
The housing market is still struggling to recover from a bust that sent prices downward and made it difficult for many people to sell their current homes to relocate to other regions or upgrade to a larger home.
The November increase in existing-home sales was driven by a 6.7 percent rise in sales of single-family homes which pushed activity in this area to an annual rate of 4.15 million units. Sales of condominiums dropped 1.9 percent to a rate of 530,000 units.
The inventory of unsold homes declined to 3.71 million units at the end of November, representing a 9.5 months supply at the November sales pace. That is still above the six to seven months supply that is typical for a healthy housing market.
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