Strong Economy Boosts Home Sales; Upward Trend to Hold

November 21, 2019

Low mortgage rates and a strengthening economy propelled home sales in October, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. Total existing-home sales, which include completed transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, rose 1.9% month over month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million, NAR’s latest existing-home sales report shows. Sales are up 4.6% from a year ago.

NAR October Existing-Home Sales Infographic

“Historically low interest rates, continuing job expansion, and higher weekly earnings are undoubtedly contributing to these higher numbers,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “We will likely continue to see sales climb as long as potential buyers are presented with an adequate supply of inventory.”

Regionally, the existing-home sales data painted a mixed picture. The Midwest and South saw a growth in home sales last month, while sales in the Northeast and West dropped, NAR reports. Here’s a closer look at key indicators from NAR’s October housing report.

  • Home prices: The median home price among all housing types was $270,900, up 6.2% from a year ago.
  • Days on the market: Forty-six percent of homes sold were on the market for less than a month. Properties typically remained on the market for 36 days, which is consistent with year-ago numbers.
  • Cash sales: These deals comprised 19% of transactions, down from 23% a year ago. Individual investors and second-home buyers made up the bulk of cash sales: They accounted for 14%, down from 15% a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales comprised just 2% of sales, down from 3% a year ago.
  • Inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of October was at 1.77 million units, down 2.7% from September and 4.3% from a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 3.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.1 months in September and from 4.3 months a year ago.

New-home sales are picking up, which is a welcome sign, Yun says. “The issuance of more housing permits is a very positive sign and a good step toward more inventory. In order to better counter and even slow the increase in housing prices, home builders will have to bring additional homes on the market.”

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