Existing Sales Fall in August But First-Time Buyer Share Rises


Although existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors, decreased in August after three successive months of growth, the first-time home buyer share increased sharply to 32% from 28% in July. Total existing home sales decreased by 4.8% in August to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.31 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, down from a downwardly revised 5.58 million units in July. August existing sales were up 6.2% from the same period a year ago.

Existing Home Sales August 2015

Existing sales were flat in the Northeast, and decreased by 1.5% in the Midwest, 6.6% in the South and 7.8% in the West. Year-over-year, all four regions also increased, ranging from 7.2% in the West to 5.8% in the Midwest.

Total housing inventory in August increased by 1.3% from July, but is 1.7% below its level a year ago. At the current sales rate, the August unsold inventory represents a 5.2-month supply, up from 4.9 months in July. Some 40% of existing homes in August were on the market for less than a month, compared to 42% of existing homes in July and 47% in June which was the highest share since June 2013.

The distressed sales share remained at 7% in August, matching the lowest share since the series was launched in October 2008. Distressed sales are defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. The August all-cash sales share decreased to 22% in August, matching the lowest share since December 2009. Individual investors purchased a 12% share in August, compared to the 13 % share of homes in July, and unchanged from the same period a year ago. Cash investors continue to compete with first-time buyers.

The August median sales price of $228,700 was 4.7% above the same month a year ago, and represented the 42nd consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. The median condominium/co-op price of $217,400 in August was up 2.2% from the same month a year ago.

Although the Pending Home Sales Index increased 0.5% in July, total existing sales disappointed in August. However the first-time buyer share increased, matching the previous highest share of 2015 recorded in May.

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