Existing-home sales remained mostly flat in August, bringing relief to markets following four consecutive months of decreases. Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest helped to offset downturns in the South and West last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ existing-home sales report, released Thursday.
Existing-home sales—which are completed transaction for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—remained at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in August, the same as July. Sales are 1.5 percent below a year ago, NAR reports.
“Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.”
Here’s a closer look at some of the findings:
- Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $264,800—up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
- Inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of August was at 1.92 million existing homes for sale, up from 1.87 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
- Days on the market: Properties stayed on the market an average of 29 days in August, down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month. “While inventory continues to show modest year over year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,” Yun says. “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory—especially moderately priced, entry-level homes—would propel sales.”
- All-cash sales: All-cash sales comprised 20 percent of transactions in August, unchanged from a year ago. Investors tend to make up the biggest bulk of all-cash sales. They made up 13 percent of home sales in August, down from 15 percent a year ago.
- Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 3 percent of sales in August, the lowest reading since NAR began tracking such data in October 2008. Broken out, 2 percent of sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.
“We are probably seeing a reaction to the uncertainty around how sustainable recent price increase will be in the near future,” says Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams. “Nationally, we expect sales to continue to track slightly below last year’s levels as inventory starts to move upward.”