November resale home sales were down 5.9 percent from the prior month, but this drop seems due more to the usual seasonal slowdown than to declining demand. Sales were down “only” 20.5 percent from November 2005, but this actually represents an improvement on recent months’ 25-plus percent year-over-year declines. In other words, sales were still very weak, but they were slightly less weak than before. The improvement could be due to declining mortgage rates, the real estate industry’s recent propaganda onslaught, randomness, or any combination thereof. But whatever caused the relative strength in sales volume didn’t do much for sale prices.

Meanwhile, inventory is declining fast as would-be sellers pack it in for the winter. The number of resale homes for sale dropped 7.5 percent between October and November, though it remains 27.3 percent higher than it was a year ago.

The combination of relatively decent sales volume and declining inventory made for a slight improvement in the months-of-inventory figure to just about 8, as shown on the right.

These statistics start to get pretty boring at this time of year, as the holiday-inspired reduction in volume and inventory renders it difficult to discern any useful information. Things should start to get interesting again in February as both sellers and buyers return to the market.

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