Existing-home sales increased in October to their strongest pace since earlier this summer, but continual supply shortages led to fewer closings on an annual basis for the second straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in October from a downwardly revised 5.37 million in September. After last month’s increase, sales are at their strongest pace since June (5.51 million), but still remain 0.9 percent below a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales activity in October picked up for the second straight month, with increases in all four major regions. “Job growth in most of the country continues to carry on at a robust level and is starting to slowly push up wages, which is in turn giving households added assurance that now is a good time to buy a home,” he said. “While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated.”
Added Yun, “The residual effects on sales from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are still seen in parts of Texas and Florida. However, sales should completely bounce back to their pre-storm levels by the end of the year, as demand for buying in these areas was very strong before the storms.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $247,000, up 5.5 percent from October 2016 ($234,100). October’s price increase marks the 68th straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of October decreased 3.2 percent to 1.80 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 10.4 percent lower than a year ago (2.01 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 29 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.9-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.4 months a year ago.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in October, which is unchanged from last month and down from 41 days a year ago. Forty-seven percent of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month.
Realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, measuring time on the market data and listings views per property, revealed that the hottest metro areas in October were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.; and Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.
“Listings — especially those in the affordable price range — continue to go under contract typically a week faster than a year ago, and even quicker in many areas where healthy job markets are driving sustained demand for buying,” said Yun. “With the seasonal decline in inventory beginning to occur in most markets, prospective buyers will likely continue to see competitive conditions through the winter.”
October existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 4.2 percent to an annual rate of 740,000, (unchanged from a year ago). The median price in the Northeast was $272,800, which is 6.6 percent above October 2016.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales inched forward 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.31 million in October, but are still 1.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $194,700, up 7.1 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South increased 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.16 million in October, but are still 1.8 percent lower than a year ago. The median price in the South was $214,900, up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West grew 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.27 million in October, and are now 0.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $375,100, up 7.8 percent from October 2016.
Source: National Association of Realtors