October existing-home sales up 2%, highest since June

Almost a percent below this time last year, but bouncing back from the hurricanes in Texas and Florida

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The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) existing-home sales increased 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 5.48 million in October — up from a downwardly revised 5.37 million in September.

This month’s sales pace is 0.9 percent below October 2016 but is the strongest sales pace since this June (5.51 million).

Jobs growth is keeping buyers in the market

The median existing-home price for all housing types in October rose 5.5 percent to $247,000, making October the 68th month in a row to see year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory fell 3.2 percent points month-over-month to 1.80 million homes for sale, while year-over-year inventory dropped 10.4 percentage points, its 29th consecutive month of year-over-year declines. Unsold inventory is at a 3.9-month supply, a 4.4 percent year-over-year decline.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says strong jobs growth and increases in wages are what’s propelling buyers to stay in the market and attempt to work around limited amounts of inventory.

“Job growth in most of the country continues to carry on at a robust level and is starting to slowly push up wages, which is in turn giving households added assurance that now is a good time to buy a home,” he said, adding that low inventory was keeping sales low.

But Yun said Texas and Florida are still recovering from hurricane damage, and expects the housing market in both states to fully rebound within the next month, as “demand for buying in these areas was very strong before the storms.”

Distressed sales, which include foreclosures and short sales, were at 4 percent — unchanged from last month and a year ago. Three percent of October sales were foreclosures, and 1 percent were short sales.

Single-family home sales were at a SAAR of 4.87 million — a 0.10 percentage point month-over-month increase and a 1.0 percentage point year-over-year decrease. The sales price for single-family homes increased by 5.4 percentage points to $248,300.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 1.7 percentage points to a SAAR of 610,000 units, unchanged from a year ago. The median existing condo price in September was $236,800 — up 6.9 percentage points from 2016.

How did buying patterns vary across the country?

Here’s the breakdown, straight from NAR:

  • “In the Northeast, sales rose 4.2 percent to an annual rate of 740,000, (unchanged from a year ago). The median price in the Northeast was $272,800, which is 6.6 percent above October 2016.
  • In the Midwest, existing-home sales inched forward 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.31 million in October, but are still 1.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $194,700, up 7.1 percent from a year ago.
  • Existing-home sales in the South increased 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.16 million in October, but are still 1.8 percent lower than a year ago. The median price in the South was $214,900, up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
  • Existing-home sales in the West grew 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.27 million in October, and are now 0.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $375,100, up 7.8 percent from October 2016.”

Email Marian McPherson.