Home resales climb, housing recovery gains traction

WASHINGTON, Mon Nov 19, 2012 – U.S. home resales rose in October and a gauge of homebuilder sentiment climbed to a six-year high in November, a sign slow improvements in the labor market are helping the housing sector recovery gain traction.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday that existing home sales climbed 2.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million units, beating forecasts by Wall Street economists.

The data suggests America’s recovery from the 2007-09 recession is becoming increasingly self-sustaining, with job creation helping drive home sales, which in turn are supporting economic growth.

“The housing market is continuing to improve. It’s probably improving more than most economists were projecting earlier this year,” said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass.

However, the data also showed that superstorm Sandy, a mammoth storm that slammed in the U.S. East Coast on Oct. 29, continues to distort economic data in the United States.

The deadly storm had only a slight impact on home resales last month, with sales dropping in the Northeast. But NAR economist Lawrence Yun said the storm could temporarily hold back the pace of sales in November and December.

The storm, which killed more than 130 people in the United States and left millions of homes and businesses without electricity, also lead U.S. factories to cut production in October while consumers pulled back on automobile purchases. Economists, however, think Sandy’s impact on the economy will only prove temporary.