WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Existing-home sales subsided for the fourth straight month in July to their slowest pace in over two years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The West was the only major region with an increase in sales last month.
Total existing-home sales1, https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in July from 5.38 million in June. With last month's decline, sales are now 1.5 percent below a year ago and have fallen on an annual basis for five straight months.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the continuous solid gains in home prices have now steadily reduced demand. "Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million," he said. "Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out, or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market."
The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in July was $269,600, up 4.5 percent from July 2017($258,100). July's price increase marks the 77th straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory3 at the end of July decreased 0.5 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale (unchanged from a year ago). Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace (also unchanged from a year ago).
Properties typically stayed on the market for 27 days in July, up from 26 days in June but down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-five percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.
"Listings continue to go under contract in under a month, which highlights the feedback from Realtors® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties," said Yun. "Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new home construction is not keeping up to meet demand."
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 4.53 percent in July from 4.57 percent in June. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.
"In addition to the steady climb in home prices over the past year, it's evident that the quick run-up in mortgage rates earlier this spring has had somewhat of a cooling effect on home sales," said Yun. "This weakening in affordability has put the most pressure on would-be first-time buyers in recent months, who continue to represent only around a third of sales despite a very healthy economy and labor market."
First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in July, which is up from 31 percent last month but down from 33 percent year ago. NAR's 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20174 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34 percent.
"Despite first-time buyers struggling to achieve homeownership, Realtors® in most areas say demand is still the strongest at the entry-level segment of the market," said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. "For prospective first-timers looking to begin their home search this fall, it is expected that competition will remain swift. That is why it's important to be fully prepared with a pre-approval from a lender, and to begin conversations with a Realtor® early about what you're looking for and where."
All-cash sales were 20 percent of transactions in July, down from 22 percent in June but up from 19 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in July (unchanged from last month and a year ago).
Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – were 3 percent of sales in July (lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008), unchanged from last month and down from 5 percent a year ago. Two percent of July sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.
Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales declined 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million in July from 4.76 million in June, and are 1.2 percent below the 4.81 million sales pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $272,300 in July, up 4.6 percent from July 2017.
Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units in July and are 3.3 percent below a year ago. The median existing condo price was $248,100 in July, which is 3.2 percent above a year ago.
July existing-home sales in the Northeast dropped 8.3 percent to an annual rate of 660,000, and are 1.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $309,700, which is up 6.8 percent from July 2017.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales declined 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.25 million in July, and are 0.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $210,500, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South decreased 0.4 percent to an annual rate of 2.24 million in July, and are 0.4 percent lower than a year ago. The median price in the South was $233,400, up 2.7 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West rose 4.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.19 million in July, but are still 4.0 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $392,700, up 5.1 percent from July 2017.
The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.
1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.
Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau's series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.
2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.
The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR's quarterly metro area price reports.
3Total inventory and month's supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month's supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).
4Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR's Realtors®Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.
5Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR's Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.
NOTE: NAR's Pending Home Sales Index for July is scheduled for release on August 29, and Existing-Home Sales for August will be released September 20; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.
Information about NAR is available at www.nar.realtor. This and other news releases are posted in the newsroom under the "About NAR" tab. Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the "Research and Statistics" tab.