Sales of existing homes beat expectations in November, with Realtors reporting a surprisingly modest effect in the Northeast from Superstorm Sandy. An even bigger surprise was a huge gain in activity among higher-end homes. Sales of homes priced above $750,000 jumped 50 percent from a year ago, as sales of the lowest-end homes (largely distressed) fell 4 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The change in the mix of homes selling pushed the median home price nationally (median defined as half selling higher and half selling lower) to $180,600, a 10.1 percent increase from November of 2011. This is a far higher jump than other so-called "repeat" sales indices have shown, because a median measure does not compare the sale prices of homes selling now to similar homes selling a year ago, but the median of all sale prices nationally, which is skewed to which types of homes are selling. Still, the shift to more activity in higher price ranges is important.