Total existing-home sales fell by 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in August from 5.44 million in July, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Last month’s sales pace is 0.2 percent above last August, and is also the lowest in a year.
While sales were down, prices were up. The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $253,500, up 5.6 percent from the $240,000 level in August 2016. This marked the 66th straight month of year-over-year median price gains.
The total housing inventory at the end of August dropped by 2.1 percent to 1.88 million existing homes available for sale, and is 6.5 percent lower than a year ago (2.01 million). The total inventory level has been in a year-over-year downturn for 27 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.5 months a year ago.
First-time homebuyers were responsible for 31 percent of sales in August, down from 33 percent in July and is the lowest share since last August, when it was also 31 percent. All-cash sales were 20 percent of transactions in August, up from 19 percent in July but down from 22 percent a year ago.
“Steady employment gains, slowly rising incomes and lower mortgage rates generated sustained buyer interest all summer long, but unfortunately, not more home sales,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “What’s ailing the housing market and continues to weigh on overall sales is the inadequate levels of available inventory and the upward pressure it’s putting on prices in several parts of the country. Sales have been unable to break out because there are simply not enough homes for sale.”