Existing-Home Sales Inch Up 0.8 Percent in October

Existing-home sales increased in October, marking two straight months of growth, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Two of the four major U.S. regions saw month-over-month sales climb, one region reported a drop and the fourth area held steady in October. On a year-over-year basis, each region witnessed sales decrease.

Total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 0.8 percent from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.34 million in October. Sales fell 5.8 percent from a year ago (6.73 million in October 2020).

“Home sales remain resilient, despite low inventory and increasing affordability challenges,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Inflationary pressures, such as fast-rising rents and increasing consumer prices, may have some prospective buyers seeking the protection of a fixed, consistent mortgage payment.”

Total housing inventory at the end of October amounted to 1.25 million units, down 0.8 percent from September and down 12.0 percent from one year ago (1.42 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, equal to September’s supply, and down from 2.5 months in October 2020.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $353,900, up 13.1 percent from October 2020 ($313,000), as prices climbed in each region. This marks 116 straight months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.

“Among some of the workforce, there is an ongoing trend of flexibility to work anywhere, and this has contributed to an increase in sales in some parts of the country,” said Yun. “Record-high stock markets and all-time high home prices have worked to significantly raise total consumer wealth and, when coupled with extended remote work flexibility, elevated housing demand in vacation regions.”

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in October, up from 17 days in September and down from 21 days in October 2020. Eighty-two percent of homes sold in October 2021 were on the market for less than a month.

In October, first-time buyers were responsible for 29 percent of sales, up from 28 percent in September and down from 32 percent in October 2020. Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 17 percent of homes in October, up from both 13 percent in September and from 14 percent in October 2020. All-cash sales accounted for 24 percent of transactions in October, up from both 23 percent in September and from 19 percent in October 2020.

Regional Breakdown

Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 2.6 percent in October, registering an annual rate of 750,000, a 13.8 percent decline from October 2020. The median price in the Northeast was $379,100, up 6.4 percent from one year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 4.2 percent to an annual rate of 1,500,000 in October, a 6.3 percent decrease from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $259,800, a 7.8 percent jump from October 2020.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 0.4 percent in October, posting an annual rate of 2,780,000, a 3.5 percent drop from one year ago. The median price in the South was $315,500, a 16.1 percent climb from one year prior.

Existing-home sales in the West neither rose nor fell from the prior month’s level, registering an annual rate of 1,310,000 in October, down 5.1 percent from one year ago. The median price in the West was $507,200, up 7.7 percent from October 2020.

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