October Existing Home Sales Rise for First Time in 6 Months

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales in October rose by 1.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.22 million from a total of 5.15 million in September. This is the first increase in six months.

The consensus estimate called for sales to reach 5.2 million according to a survey of economists polled by Bloomberg. Total sales in 2016 came in at 5.45 million to surpass 2015’s total of 5.25 million as the most sales since 2006 when 6.48 million homes were sold.

The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said:

After six consecutive months of decline, buyers are finally stepping back into the housing market. Gains in the Northeast, South and West – a reversal from last month’s steep decline or plateau in all regions – helped overall sales activity rise for the first time since March 2018.

Housing inventory decreased by 1.6% in October to 1.85 million homes, equal to a supply of 4.3 months, down by 0.1 months compared with September. Inventory is up from 3.9 months year over year in October 2017.

According to the NAR, the national median existing home price for all housing types in October was $255,400, up 3.8% compared with October 2017, the 80th consecutive month of rising home prices. In September the national median price was $258,100.

The percentage of first-time buyers fell from 32% in September to 31%, and also down from 32% in October 2017. For all of 2017, first-time buyers accounted for 34% of sales.

Sales of single-family homes increased from 4.58 million in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in October and are down 5.3% compared with October 2017. Sales of multi-family homes rose 5.3% month over month in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 600,000 units.

All homes were on the market for an average of 33 days in October, up by 1 day month over month and down from 34 days in October 2017. Foreclosure (2%) and short (1%) sales accounted for 3% of all October sales, unchanged compared with the prior month and down from 4% in October 2017. The percentage of distressed sales remains at its lowest level since the NAR began tracking it in October 2008.

The NAR also reported the following regional data:

October existing-home sales in the Northeast rose by 1.5% to an annual rate of 690,000 and were down 6.8% compared with October 2017 sales. The median price in the Northeast was $280,900, up 3% compared with October of last year.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales dipped 0.8% last month to an annual rate of 1.27 million and remain down 3.1% compared with the October 2017 rate. The median price in the Midwest was $197,000, up 2.4% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South rose 1.9% in October to an annual rate of 2.15 million but are down 2.3% compared to October 2017 sales. The median price in the South was $221,600, up 3.8% from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West increased by 2.8% to an annual rate of 1.11 million in October and are down 11.2% compared with October 2017 totals. The median price in the West was $382,900, up 1.9% compared with the October 2017 median.