Housing MarketReal Estate

Existing home sales climb 1.9% on low mortgage rates

October's sales are 4.6% above last year's rate

Despite lingering regional variances, the nation’s existing-home sales increased by 1.9% in October, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops – rose to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.46 million. This means sales are 4.6% above October 2018’s rate.

 “Historically-low interest rates, continuing job expansion, higher weekly earnings, and low mortgage rates are undoubtedly contributing to these higher numbers,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said. “We will likely continue to see sales climb as long as potential buyers are presented with an adequate supply of inventory.”

In October, the median price for an existing home was $270,900, a gain of 6.2% from last year’s rate of $255,100. This marks the 92nd straight month of year-over-year gains.

According to NAR, total homes available for sale came in at 1.77 million, down 2.7% from September and 4.3% from last year’s rate of 1.85 million.

There was a 3.9-month supply of unsold inventory at the current sales pace, down from 4.1 in September and 4.3 a year ago. Properties stayed on the market an average of 36 days in October, rising from 32 days in September but remaining the same as last year. The report states that 46% of homes stayed on the market for less than a month.

The average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased from 3.61% in September to 3.69% in October and the average commitment rate for all of 2018 was 4.54%, according to Freddie Mac.

First-time buyers comprised 31% of sales in October, down from September’s rate of 33%, but identical to October 2018’s rate of 31%. NAR revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers held steady at 33%.

Single-family home sales grew from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.77 million in September to 4.87 million in October, which is 5.4% above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $273,600 in October, increasing 6.2% from October 2018. 

Existing condominium and co-op sales recorded a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units in October, which is even with September’s rate, but 1.7% lower than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $248,500 in September, rising 5.6% from 2018. 

Here’s a regional breakdown of the nation’s existing-home sales:

  • Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 1.4% from the prior month’s rate to an annual rate of 690,000, which is on par with last year’s rate. The median price in the Northeast increased by 5.7% from October 2018 and came in at $296,700.
  • In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 1.6% from the prior month at an annual rate of 1.29 million, which is up 2.4% from October 2018’s level. The median price in the Midwest was $209,900, increasing 6.7% from a year ago.
  • Southern existing home sales moved forward 4.4% to an annual rate of 2.35 million in October, up 7.8% from last year. The median price in the South climbed to $234,900, growing 6% from September 2018.
  • Existing-home sales in the West decreased by 0.9% to an annual rate of 1.13 million in October, which is 3.7% above last year’s rate. The median price in the West was $410,700, climbing 7.8% from this time last year.

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