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Existing-Home Sales Inch Up 0.8% In October

David Krechevsky
Nov 22, 2021
Existing home sales

On a year-over-year basis, though, all four regions witnessed sales decreases.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Existing-home sales rose 0.8% in October from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.34 million, sustaining the growth in sales in the prior month.
  • The median existing-home sales price increased 13.1% year-over-year to $353,900.
  • From one year ago, the inventory of unsold homes decreased 12% to 1.25 million – equivalent to 2.4 months of the monthly sales pace.

Existing-home sales increased in October, marking two straight months of growth, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Two of the four major U.S. regions saw month-over-month sales climb, one region reported a drop, and the fourth area held steady in October, NAR said. On a year-over-year basis, however, all four regions witnessed sales decreases.

Total existing-home sales — completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — rose 0.8% from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.34 million in October. Sales fell 5.8% from a year ago (6.73 million in October 2020).

"Home sales remain resilient, despite low inventory and increasing affordability challenges," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Inflationary pressures, such as fast-rising rents and increasing consumer prices, may have some prospective buyers seeking the protection of a fixed, consistent mortgage payment."

Total housing inventory at the end of October amounted to 1.25 million units, down 0.8% from September and 12% from one year ago (1.42 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, equal to September's supply, and down from 2.5 months in October 2020.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $353,900, up 13.1% from $313,000 in October 2020, as prices climbed in each region. October marked the 116th consecutive month of year-over-year increases, the longest streak on record.

"Among some of the workforce, there is an ongoing trend of flexibility to work anywhere, and this has contributed to an increase in sales in some parts of the country," Yun said. "Record-high stock markets and all-time high home prices have worked to significantly raise total consumer wealth and, when coupled with extended remote work flexibility, elevated housing demand in vacation regions."

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in October, up from 17 days in September but down from 21 days in October 2020. NAR said 82% of homes sold in October 2021 were on the market for less than a month.

In October, first-time buyers were responsible for 29% of sales, up from 28% in September but still down from 32% in October 2020. NAR's 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, released earlier this month, reported that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34%.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 17% of homes in October, up from both 13% in September and from 14% in October 2020. All-cash sales accounted for 24% of transactions in October, up from both 23% in September and from 19% in October 2020.

Distressed sales — comprised of foreclosures and short sales — represented less than 1% of sales in October, equal to the percentage seen a month prior and in October 2020.

A glance at sales by region:

  • Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 2.6% in October, registering an annual rate of 750,000, a 13.8% decline from October 2020. The median price in the Northeast was $379,100, up 6.4% from one year ago.
  • Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 4.2% to an annual rate of 1,500,000 in October, a 6.3% decrease from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $259,800, a 7.8% jump from October 2020.
  • Existing-home sales in the South increased 0.4% in October, posting an annual rate of 2,780,000, a 3.5% drop from one year ago. The median price in the South was $315,500, a 16.1% climb from one year prior.
  • Existing-home sales in the West neither rose nor fell from the prior month's level, registering an annual rate of 1,310,000 in October, down 5.1% from one year ago. The median price in the West was $507,200, up 7.7% from October 2020.

The National Association of Realtors is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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