WASHINGTON (September 20, 2018) – Existing-home sales remained steady in August after four straight months of decline, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest canceled out downturns in the South and West.
Total existing-home sales1, https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, did not change from July and remained at a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.34 million in August. Sales are now down 1.5 percent from a year ago (5.42 million in August 2017).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the decline in existing home sales appears to have hit a plateau with robust regional sales. “Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,” he said. “With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.”
The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in August was $264,800, up 4.6 percent from August 2017 ($253,100). August’s price increase marks the 78th straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory3 at the end of August also remained unchanged from July at 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, and is up from 1.87 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, consistent from last month and up from 4.1 months a year ago.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 29 days in August, up from 27 days in July but down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month.
“While inventory continues to show modest year over year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,” said Yun. “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory – especially moderately priced, entry-level homes – would propel sales.”
Realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, measuring time-on-the-market data and listings views per property, revealed that the hottest metro areas in August were Midland, Texas; Fort Wayne, Ind.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Boise City, Idaho.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.55 percent in August from 4.53 percent in July. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.
“Rising interests rates along with high home prices and lack of inventory continues to push entry-level and first time home buyers out of the market,” said Yun. “Realtors® continue to report that the demand is there – that current renters want to become homeowners – but there simply are not enough properties available in their price range.”
First-time buyers were 31 percent of sales in August, down from last month (32 percent) but the same as a year ago. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20174 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34 percent.
“Realtors® across the country report that their clients waver about the decision to list their home; they are excited by the prospect of receiving many offers, they are concerned that they will not be able to find a new home to purchase,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “Unfortunately this fluctuating view is contributing to the short supply of homes. Buyers hoping to find an entry level home in this market should work with a Realtor® and be prepared to move quickly as listings sell quickly.”
All-cash sales were 20 percent of transactions in August, unchanged from July and a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in August, unchanged from July and down from 15 percent a year ago.
Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – were 3 percent of sales in August (lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008), unchanged from last month and down from 4 percent a year ago. Two percent of June sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.
Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million in August, unchanged from July, and are 1.0 percent below the 4.8 million sales pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $267,300 in August, up 4.9 percent from August 2017.
Existing condominium and co-op sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units in August (unchanged from last month), and are down 4.8 percent from a year ago. The median existing condo price was $244,500 in August, which is up 2.0 percent from a year ago.
August existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 7.6 percent to an annual rate of 710,000, but are still 2.7 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $292,800, which is up 2.6 percent from August 2017.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.28 million in August, but are still down 0.8 percent from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $208,500, up 3.4 percent from last year.
Existing-home sales in the South decreased 0.4 percent to an annual rate of 2.23 million in August, up from 2.19 million a year ago. The median price in the South was $227,900, up 3.2 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West dropped 5.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.12 million in August, 7.4 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $392,900, up 4.8 percent from August 2017.
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.
1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.
Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.
2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.
The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.
3Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).
4Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s Realtors®Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.
5Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.
NOTE: NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for August is scheduled for release on September 27, and Existing-Home Sales for September will be released October 19; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.
Information about NAR is available at www.nar.realtor. This and other news releases are posted in the newsroom under the “About NAR” tab. Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the “Research and Statistics” tab.