August Existing Home Sales Dip 1%, Prices 5% Higher Than 2015

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales in August fell 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million from a downwardly revised total of 5.38 million in July.

The consensus estimate called for sales to reach 5.44 million, according to a survey of economists polled by Bloomberg.

The NAR’s chief economist said:

Healthy labor markets in most the country should be creating a sustained demand for home purchases. However, there’s no question that after peaking in June, sales in a majority of the country have inched backwards because inventory isn’t picking up to tame price growth and replace what’s being quickly sold.

Hopes of a meaningful sales breakthrough as a result of this summer’s historically low mortgage rates failed to materialize because supply and affordability restrictions continue to keep too many would-be buyers on the sidelines.

Housing inventory decreased by 3.3% in August, to 2.04 million homes, equal to a supply of 4.6 months. Inventory has declined year over year for 15 consecutive months.

According to the NAR, the national median existing home price for all housing types in August was $240,200, up 5.1% compared with August 2015, the 54th consecutive month of rising home prices. In July the national median price was $244,100.

The percentage of first-time buyers slipped to 31% in August, a decrease of 1 percentage point both year over year and month over month.

Sales of single-family homes dropped 2.3% from the July total to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.7 million, but is up 0.6% compared with August 2015. Sales of multi-family homes rose 10.5% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 630,000 units.

All homes were on the market for an average of 36 days in August, unchanged compared with July. Foreclosed and non-distressed homes were on the market for an average of 42 and 35 days, respectively, and short sales took a median of 144 days to sell.

The NAR also reported the following regional data:

August existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 6.1% year-over-year to an annual rate of 700,000, and are unchanged compared with a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $274,100, up 0.8% compared with August 2015.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales decreased by 0.8% to an annual rate of 1.27 million in August and are now 0.8% higher than August 2015 sales. The median price in the Midwest was $190,700, up 5.5% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South fell 2.7% in August to an annual rate of 2.16 million, but are still 0.9% above August 2015 sales. The median price in the South was $209,700, up 6.7% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West decreased by 1.6% to an annual rate of 1.2 million in August, but remain 0.8% higher than a year ago. The median price in the West was $347,400, up 9.2% compared with the August 2015 median.