Both unit sales and median sales prices averaged growth in the mid single digits for the month of September, and inventory levels continue to be constrained at just above four months' supply, according to a client note from Sterne Agee analysts Jay McCanless and Annie Worthman.
Looking at the top 25 markets more than national housing trends, they found that both local completed and pending home sales growth was above the national numbers in September.
“Existing home sales (in the top 25 markets) during September surpassed the national market with a 5.0% year-over-year increase versus a 1.9% Y/Y increase for the national metric. Charlotte, Tampa, and Sarasota reported the highest Y/Y growth in unit sales at 15.0%, 17.3%, and 26.2%, respectively,” they say.
As for pending sales, the picture was different.
“Approximately 17 of the 25 markets we monitor provide monthly pending home sales, which are open contracts to buy a home that have not closed by the end of the month. Pending sales for these 17 markets increased by an average of 7.0% Y/Y in September versus a 3.0% Y/Y increase nationally,” they write. “Eleven of these 17 markets had a positive Y/Y% comparison in September, and six of these (Baltimore, Charleston, Denver, Inland Empire, Sarasota, and Seattle) are in their third consecutive month of positive Y/Y growth.”
In the top 25 markets, the supply of homes remains constrained.
“Historically, markets with less than six months of inventory to sell have been sellers' markets, which have provided homebuilders and existing home sellers the opportunity to raise prices. September's average months to sell reading was 4.1 in the top 25 markets, below both August's average of 4.2 and September's national average of 5.3. Gross inventory in our Top 25 markets increased 5.7% Y/Y for September versus a 6.0% Y/Y increase in national inventory levels,” they write. “The Fort Myers, Raleigh, and Denver markets reported the largest decline in September's inventory levels, falling 12.1%, 15.8%, and 18.9% Y/Y, respectively.”
As for home prices, the top 25 were just ahead of the national numbers.
“We monitor existing home price trends because we believe builder pricing power is currently a function of scarcity and local market price growth. Y/Y growth in Top 25 median home prices has remained positive for over eighteen months, and has outpaced Top 25 unit sales growth consistently since July 2013,” they say. “Median Y/Y price growth averaged 6.6% this month for our Top 25 markets versus 5.6% Y/Y price growth for national existing home sales. Las Vegas, Atlanta, and San Francisco experienced the highest Y/Y median price growth in September, rising 12.5%, 13.9%, and 15.1%, respectively.”