Boosted by low mortgage rates, existing home sales, released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), rose to 17-month high in August.
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, climbed 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in August, the largest gain since March 2018. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 2.6% up than a year ago.
The first-time buyer share fell to 31% in August from 32% last month but remained unchanged from a year ago. The August inventory decreased to 1.86 million units from 1.90 million units both in July and 1.91 million units a year ago. At the current sales rate, the August unsold inventory represents a 4.1-month supply, down from a 4.2-month supply last month and 4.3-month a year ago.
Homes stayed on the market for an average of 31 days in August, up from 29 days both last month and a year ago. In August, 49% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.
The August all-cash sales shared 19% of transactions, unchanged from last month but down from 20% a year ago.
The August median sales price of all existing homes was $278,200, up 4.7% from a year ago, representing the 90th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median existing condominium/co-op price of $257,600 in August was up 5.2% from a year ago.
Regionally, all regions saw an increase in existing home sales in August except for the West, compared to the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose in all four major regions, ranging from 1.4% in the Northeast to 3.6% in the South.
The August gain in sales is largely due to falling mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve’s additional rate cut on Wednesday will help to expand housing affordability and attract more buyers. However, home prices will continue to rise if inventory remains low. Meanwhile, fueled by low interest rates and solid homebuyer demand, builder confidence rose one point to 68 in September, the highest level for the year.