First-Time Buyers Behind Latest Housing Gains | Realtor Magazine
Existing-home sales rebounded in September as first-time home buyers flooded the market. Sales to first-time home buyers topped a 34 percent share in September, the highest in more than four years, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
Total existing-home sales – which are completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops – rose 3.2 percent in September month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million, NAR reported Thursday. Sales are now at the highest pace since June (5.57 million) and are 0.6 percent higher than a year ago (5.44 million). All major regions across the U.S. saw a pick up in closings last month, NAR reports.
Here’s a closer look at how existing-home sales fared across the country in September:
- Northeast: existing-home sales rose 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 740,000, unchanged from a year ago. Median price: $261,600, up 2.1 percent from a year ago.
- Midwest: existing-home sales increased 3.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.32 million in September, and are now 2.3 percent above a year ago. Median price: $184,500, up 5.9 percent from a year ago.
- South: existing-home sales inched up 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.16 million, but remain 0.9 percent below a year ago. Median price: $204,000, up 6.6 percent from a year ago.
- West: existing-home sales surged 5 percent to an annual rate of 1.25 million in September, and are now 1.6 percent higher than a year ago. Median price: $345,400, up 8.1 percent from a year ago.
First-time home buyers were behind most of that sales momentum last month, NAR reports.
“There’s hope the leap in sales to first-time buyers can stick through the rest of the year and into next spring,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The market fundamentals – primarily consistent job gains and affordable mortgage rates – are there for the steady rise in first-timers needed to finally reverse the decline in the home ownership rate.”
Still, the limited number of homes for sale on the market could prove a big roadblock.
“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,” Yun adds. “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 home owners to buy last month.”
5 Key Housing Stats
Here are a few key housing indicators from NAR’s September housing report:
1. Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types last month was $234,200, a 5.6 percent year-over-year increase.
2. Days on the market: Forty-four percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month. Properties stayed on the market an average of 39 days last month, down from 49 days a year ago. Short sales spent the longest time on the market at a median of 118 days; foreclosures sold in 67 days; and non-distressed homes sold in 38 days.
3. Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales dropped to a new low in September, comprising 4 percent of sales. That is down from 7 percent a year ago. In September, 3 percent of sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales. On average, foreclosures sold for a discount of 15 percent below market value while short sales were discounted 11 percent.
4. Cash sales: All-cash sales comprised 21 percent of transactions last month, down from 24 percent a year ago. Individual investors make up the biggest bulk of cash sales. They purchased 14 percent of homes in September, up from 13 percent a year ago.
5. Inventories: More housing stock was added to the market by the end of September, up 1.5 percent month-over-month, but inventories are still 6.8 percent lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory dropped to a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace.