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Existing Home Sales Drop In August
But Year-to-Year Numbers Keep Rising

Sales of existing homes declined 4.8 percent in the month of August, but have put together 11 straight months of year-to-year gains, the National Association of Realtors said.

Existing home sales fell in August compared to July, but has increased on annual basis for the past 11 months, the National Association of Realtors said.

Sales climbed 6.1 percent year-to-year, but fell 4.8 percent on a monthly basis, even though the pace of rising home prices slowed a bit and more first-time buyers entered the market.

Regionally, all four areas in the U.S. saw their sales decrease from July to August.

"Sales activity was down in many parts of the country last month -- especially in the South and West -- as the persistent summer theme of tight inventory levels likely deterred some buyers," Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said. "The good news for the housing market is that price appreciation the last two months has started to moderate from the unhealthier rate of growth seen earlier this year."

The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $228,700, or 4.7 percent higher than the $218,400 in the same month from a year ago. The NAR said the median price has risen for 42 straight months on an annual basis.

At the end of August, housing inventory rose 1.3 percent to 2.29 million existing homes available for sale. This is 1.7 percent lower than the 2.33 million units of a year ago. Unsold inventory is at 5.2 months, up from 4.9 months in July.

"With sales and overall demand higher than a year ago and supply mostly unchanged," Yun said, "low inventories will likely continue to limit options for those looking to buy this fall even with the overall pool of buyers shrinking because of seasonal factors."

The share of first-time buyers rebounded to 32 percent in August, up from 28 percent in July. A year ago, first-time buyers comprised only 29 percent of all home purchases.

Separately, sales of single-family homes dipped 5.3 percent from July to August, but are still up 6.1 percent annually. Condominium and co-op sales fell 1.6 percent for the month, but are still up 6.9 percent year-to-year.

On a regional basis:
o The Midwest declined 1.5 percent from July to August, but is 5.8 percent higher year-to-year. The median price was $181,100, up 4.0 percent from August 2014.
o Sales in the Northeast were unchanged month-to-month, and have expanded 6.1 percent from a year ago. The median price was $271,600, and this is 2.4 percent above August 2014.
o The South fell 6.6 percent on a monthly basis, but is still 5.9 percent above August 2014. The median price was $196,300, up 6.0 percent from a year ago.
o Sales in the West shed 7.8 percent from July to August, but is 7.2 percent higher compared to the same month in 2014. The median price was $321,300, or 7.1 percent higher on an annual basis.

The NAR recently released a study and found homebuilding activity is currently insufficient in most metro regions. The NAR said this is a contributing factor to a trend of housing shortages and rising home prices in many markets.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 47 days in August, an increase from 42 days in July but below the 53 days from the same month in 2014, the NAR said. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 124 days in August. Foreclosures sold in 66 days. Forty percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month.

National Association of Home Builders website link.

Source: National Association of Realtors

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July 21, 2019, 1:16 pm PDT

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