After three months of decline, existing-home sales managed to inch up by 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in September from 5.35 million in August, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR
). Last month’s sales pace was down on a year-over-year basis by 1.5 percent below a year ago and is the second slowest over the past year.
NAR reported the median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $245,100, up 4.2 percent from the $235,200 level one year earlier. September’s price increase marks the 67th straight month of year-over-year gains.
Also on the rise was the total housing inventory, up 1.6 percent in September to 1.90 million existing homes available for sale. But the inventory level is 6.4 percent lower than a year ago (2.03 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 28 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 buyers were 29 percent of sales in September, which is down from 31 percent in August, 34 percent a year ago and matches the lowest share since September 2015.
“A continuation of last month’s alleviating price growth, which was the slowest since last December (4.5 percent), would improve affordability conditions and be good news for the would-be buyers who have been held back by higher prices this year,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who added that the damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma resulted in “temporary but notable declines” that diluted overall sales data.