Existing-home sales were at an annual rate of 5.36 million in October – a decrease of 3.4% compared with 5.55 million in September but an increase of 3.9% compared with 5.16 million in October 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Sales were down or flat in all four regions. Sales in the Northeast were at an annual rate of 760,000, which is flat compared with September but an increase of 8.6% compared with a year earlier. In the Midwest, existing-home sales were at an annual rate of 1.30 million, a decrease of 0.8% compared with September but an increase of 8.3% compared with a year earlier. In the South, existing-home sales were at an annual rate of 2.14 million, a decrease of 3.2% compared with September but an increase of 0.5% compared with a year earlier. In the West, sales were at an annual rate of 1.16 million, a decrease compared with September but an increase of 2.7% compared with a year earlier.
‘New and existing-home supply has struggled to improve so far this fall, leading to few choices for buyers and no easement of the ongoing affordability concerns still prevalent in some markets,’ says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, in a release. ‘Furthermore, the mixed signals of slowing economic growth and volatility in the financial markets slightly tempered demand and contributed to the decreasing pace of sales.
‘As long as solid job creation continues, a gradual easing of credit standards even with moderately higher mortgage rates should support steady demand and sales continuing to rise above a year ago,’ Yun adds.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $219,600, an increase of 5.8% compared with October 2014, when the median price was $207,500. As of October, home prices had increased on a year-over-year basis for 44 consecutive months.
Home prices were up in all four regions. The average price for a single-family home in the Northeast was $248,900, an increase of 1.3% compared with October 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $172,300, an increase of 5.7% compared with a year earlier. The median price in the South was $188,800, an increase of 6.2% compared with a year earlier. The median price in the West was $319,000, an increase of 8.0% compared with October 2014.
As of the end of October, there were about 2.14 million existing homes available for sale – a decrease of 2.3% compared with September and a decrease of 4.5% compared with October 2014. That's about a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace – up from 4.7 months in September.
About 31% of sales in October were to first-time home buyers. About 24% of sales were all cash. Distressed sales continued to fall toward pre-crisis lows.
‘All-cash and investor sales are still somewhat elevated historically despite the diminishing number of distressed properties,’ adds Yun. ‘With supply already meager at the lower end of the price range, competition from these buyers only adds to the list of obstacles in the path for first-time buyers trying to reach the market.’