Existing-home sales declined in September, after a month of stagnation in August, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). All four major regions saw no gain in sales activity last month. Total existing-home sales fell 3.4 percent from August to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 5.15 million in September. Sales are now down 4.1 percent from a year ago (5.37 million in September 2017).
“This is the lowest existing home sales level since November 2015,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist. “A decade’s high mortgage rates are preventing consumers from making quick decisions on home purchases. All the while, affordable home listings remain low, continuing to spur underperforming sales activity across the country.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $258,100, up 4.2 percent from September 2017 ($247,600). September’s price increase marks the 79th straight month of year-over-year gains.
“Led by a 5.4 percent decline in the South, the drop in existing-home sales in September was likely somewhat related to the impact from Hurricane Florence,” said MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni. “Beyond that, housing demand still remains strong, and is bolstered by an incredibly healthy job market. The lack of overall supply, at only 4.4 months at the current sales pace, continues to be the housing market’s primary constraint.”
Total housing inventory at the end of September decreased from 1.91 million in August to 1.88 million existing homes available for sale, and is up from 1.86 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.3 last month and 4.2 months a year ago.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 32 days in September, up from 29 days in August, but down from 34 days a year ago. Forty-seven percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month.
“There is a clear shift in the market with another month of rising inventory on a year over year basis, though seasonal factors are leading to a third straight month of declining inventory,” said Yun. “Homes will take a bit longer to sell compared to the super-heated fast pace seen earlier this year.”