The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales in October rose 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.6 million from an upwardly revised total of 5.49 million in September.
The consensus estimate called for sales to reach 5.42 million, according to a survey of economists polled by Bloomberg. Sales are at their highest level since February 2007 (5.79 million) and up 5.9% over October 2015.
The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said:
October’s strong sales gain was widespread throughout the country and can be attributed to the release of the unrealized pent-up demand that held back many would-be buyers over the summer because of tight supply. Buyers are having more success lately despite low inventory and prices that continue to swiftly rise above incomes.
The good news is that the tightening labor market is beginning to push up wages and the economy has lately shown signs of greater expansion. These two factors and low mortgage rates have kept buyer interest at an elevated level so far this fall.
Housing inventory decreased by 0.5% in October to 2.02 million homes, equal to a supply of 4.3 months. Inventory has declined year over year for 17 consecutive months and is currently down 4.3% year over year from 2.11 million.
According to the NAR, the national median existing home price for all housing types in October was $232,200, up 6% compared with October 2015, the 56th consecutive month of rising home prices. In September the national median price was $234,200.
The percentage of first-time buyers slipped by 1 point month over month to 33% in October, but up from 31% in October 2015. Yun commented on the increase:
Sales of single-family homes rose 2.3% from the September total to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million, and is up 6.6% compared with October 2015. Sales of multi-family homes remained unchanged in October at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units.
All homes were on the market for an average of 41 days in October, up from 39 in September and down from 57 in October 2015. Foreclosed and non-distressed homes were on the market for an average of 50 and 39 days, respectively, and short sales took a median of 99 days to sell.
The NAR also reported the following regional data:
October existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 1.4% year-over-year to an annual rate of 750,000, up 1.4% compared with October 2015. The median price in the Northeast was $255,500, up 2.9% compared with last October.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales increased by 2.3% to an annual rate of 1.36 million in October and are now 6.3% higher than October 2015 sales. The median price in the Midwest was $181,500, up 5.8% from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South rose 2.8% in October to an annual rate of 2.22 million, and are 4.7% higher than October 2015 sales. The median price in the South was $202,300, up 7.4% from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West increased just 0.8% to an annual rate of 1.27 million in October, and have moved 10.4% higher than in October 2015. The median price in the West was $345,800, up 7.8% compared with the October 2015 median.