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HomeNewsEconomyExisting Home Sales Rose for First Time in 4 Months in September

Existing Home Sales Rose for First Time in 4 Months in September

A under contract sign on a home previously for sale in Vienna, Va. (Photo: Reuters)
A under contract sign on a home previously for sale in Vienna, Va. (Photo: Reuters)

A under contract sign on a home previously for sale in Vienna, Va. (Photo: Reuters)

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said existing home sales rose for the first time in 4 months, up 0.7% in September to a 5.390 million annualized rate. That beat the 5.300 million forecast.

“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said. “Realtors this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types came in at $245,100, up 4.2% and marking the 67th straight month of year-over-year gains.

“Sales activity likely would have been somewhat stronger if not for the fact that parts of Texas and South Florida – hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma – saw temporary, but notable declines,” Mr. Yun added.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of September was up 1.6% to 1.90 million existing homes available for sale. That’s still remains 6.4% lower than a year ago (2.03 million) and is down year-over-year for 28 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.5 months a year ago.

First-time buyers were 29% of sales in September, down from 31% in August and 34% from a year ago. That mirrors the lowest share since September 2015. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20164 – found the annual share of first-time buyers was 35%.

“A continuation of last month’s alleviating price growth, which was the slowest since last December (4.5%), would improve affordability conditions and be good news for the would-be buyers who have been held back by higher prices this year,” said Mr. Yun. “Nearly two-thirds of renters currently believe now is a good time to buy a home, but weakening affordability and few choices in their price range have made it really difficult for more aspiring first-time buyers to reach the market.”

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales increased 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million in September from 4.74 million in August. However, they are still 1.2% below the 4.85 million pace last year. The median existing single-family home price was $246,800 in September, up 4.2% from September 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 1.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 600,000 units in September, and are now down 3.2% from a year ago. The median existing condo price was $231,300 in September, or 4.1% higher than a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

September existing-home sales in the Northeast came in at an annual rate of 720,000, unchanged from August) and 1.4% below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $274,100, or 4.8% above September 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 1.6% to an annual rate of 1.30 million in September, and down 1.5% from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $195,800, up 5.4% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South slipped 0.9% to an annual rate of 2.13 million in September, and are now 2.3% lower than a year ago. The median price in the South was $215,100, up 4.6% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West increased 3.3% to an annual rate of 1.24 million in September, unchanged from a year ago. The median price in the West was $362,700, up 5.0% from September 2016.

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PPD Business, the economy-reporting arm of People's Pundit Daily, is "making sense of current events." We are a no-holds barred, news reporting pundit of, by, and for the people.

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