Existing-home sales regained momentum in September at an annual rate of 5.55 million, an increase of 4.7% from a downwardly revised 5.30 million in August, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, says a slight moderation in home prices and mortgage rates remaining below 4% gave more households the confidence to close on a home last month, according to a release.
‘September home sales bounced back solidly after slowing in August and are now at their second-highest pace since February 2007 (5.79 million),’ he says. ‘While current price growth around six percent is still roughly double the pace of wages, affordability has slightly improved since the spring and is helping to keep demand at a strong and sustained pace.’
Total housing inventory at the end of September decreased 2.6% to 2.21 million existing homes and is now 3.1% lower than the 2.28 million of one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace – down from 5.1 months in August.
‘Despite persistent inventory shortages, the housing market has made great strides this year, backed by an increasing share of pent-up sellers realizing the increased equity they've gained from rising home prices and using it toward trading up or moving into a smaller home,’ says Yun. ‘Unfortunately, first-time buyers are still failing to generate any meaningful traction this year.’
The median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $221,900, up 6.1% compared with September 2014. September's price increase marks the 43rd consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
First-time buyers fell to 29% of sales in September after climbing to 32% in August, their highest share of the year. A year ago, first-time buyers represented 29% of all buyers.
About 24% of all transactions in September were all-cash sales – an increase from 22% in August and unchanged from one year ago.
Individual investors accounted for about 13% of homes in September, up from 12% in August but down from 14% one year ago. About 67% of investors paid cash in September.
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