Existing-Home Sales Flat in August

Washington, DC, September 20, 2018-Total existing-home sales did not change from July and remained at a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.34 million in August, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

Sales are now down 1.5% from a year ago (5.42 million in August 2017).  

Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest canceled out downturns in the South and West. 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the decline in existing home sales appears to have hit a plateau with robust regional sales. “Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,” he said. “With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $264,800, up 4.6% from August 2017 ($253,100). August’s price increase marks the 78th straight month of year-over-year gains. 

Total housing inventory at the end of August also remained unchanged from July at 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, and is up from 1.87 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, consistent from last month and up from 4.1 months a year ago.  

Properties typically stayed on the market for 29 days in August, up from 27 days in July but down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month.  

“While inventory continues to show modest year over year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,” said Yun. “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory – especially moderately priced, entry-level homes – would propel sales.” 

“Rising interests rates along with high home prices and lack of inventory continues to push entry-level and first time home buyers out of the market,” said Yun. “Realtors continue to report that the demand is there – that current renters want to become homeowners – but there simply are not enough properties available in their price range.”

First-time buyers were 31% of sales in August, down from last month (32%) but the same as a year ago. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers-released in late 2017-revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34%.