U.S. existing home sales bounce back strongly

by Ryan Smith23 Oct 2015
U.S. existing home sales made a strong resurgence in September, nearly reversing August’s decline, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.

Existing home sales were up 4.7% last month, according to the NAR. That nearly puts paid to August’s monthly decline of 5%, and marks the 12th consecutive months that existing home sales have been up on an annual basis. Total existing home sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million, 8.8% above September of 2014.

“September home sales bounced back solidly after slowing in August and are now at their second highest pace since February 2007 (5.79 million),” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “While current price growth around 6% 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.”

September’s median home price was $221,900, 6.1% above September of 2014, according to the NAR. That marks the 43rd straight month of annual price gains.

Inventory continued to tighten, dropping 2.6% to 2.21 existing homes for sale. That puts unsold inventory at a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

“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 towards trading up or moving into a smaller home,” Yun said. “Unfortunately, first–time buyers are still failing to generate any meaningful traction this year.”

First-time buyers accounted for 29% of sales in September – the same percentage as a year ago, and down from 32% in August.