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Existing Home Sales Jump 3.2 Percent in September
Highest Share of First-Time Buyers Since Mid-2012


First-time buyers jumped into the existing home market in September and drove home sales to its best pace since last summer, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The share of first-time buyers reached 34 percent and propelled existing home sales to a 3.2 percent rise in September and its best pace since June, the National Association of Realtors said.

Sales reached 5.47 million units for the month, and are 6.0 percent higher than a year ago. The NAR also reports that all four major regions of the nation posted gains, and that distressed sales fell to a new low of four percent.

Existing home sales had been in a two-month slump before rebounding in September.

"The home search over the past several months for a lot of prospective buyers, and especially for first-time buyers, took longer than usual because of the competition for the minimal amount of homes for sale," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. "Most families and move-up buyers look to close before the new school year starts. Their diminishing presence from the market towards the end of summer created more opportunities for aspiring first-time homeowners to buy last month."

First-time buyers comprised the highest share of the market since July 2012, up from 31 percent in August. This segment of buyers constituted 29 percent of the market a year earlier, and represented 30 percent of sales in all of 2015.

Single-family home sales increased 4.1 percent in September and are now 0.6 percent higher than the same month in 2015. Existing condominium and co-op sales declined 3.2 percent month-over-month, and have not changed from a year ago.

On a regional basis, in the Northeast existing-home sales jumped 5.7 percent for the month, and have not changed from a year ago. In the Midwest, sales grew 3.9 percent versus August, and are now 2.3 percent higher than September 2015. Sales in the South ticked up 0.9 percent for the month, but are 0.9 percent lower than a year earlier. And in the West, sales jumped 5.0 percent, and have climbed 1.6 percent compared to a year earlier.

Distressed sales - foreclosures and short sales - were down from five percent in August, and have also dropped 7 percent from a year ago. Three percent of September sales were foreclosures and one percent was short sales.

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July 17, 2019, 8:26 pm PDT

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