Existing Sales Revival


Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), increased 2.0% in October and reached the highest pace since February 2007. In October sales increased for the second straight month, and were up 5.9% from the same month a year ago. Total existing home sales in October increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.60 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, up from an upwardly adjusted 5.49 million units in September.


October existing sales increased in all four regions, ranging from 2.8% in the South to 0.8% in the West. Year-over-year, October sales also increased in all regions, ranging from 10.4% in the West to 1.4% in the Northeast.

Total housing inventory decreased slightly by 0.5% in October, and remains 4.3% lower than its level a year ago. At the current sales rate, the October unsold inventory represents a 4.3-month supply, compared to a 4.4-month supply in September.

The October all-cash sales share increased to 22% from 21% in September, but was down from 24% one year ago. Individual investors purchased a 13% share in October, down from 14% in September and unchanged from a year ago. The first-time home buyer share was 33% in October, down a point from the solid September report, but above the first-time buyer share of 31% in October 2015. Distressed sales, comprised of foreclosures and short sales, increased to 5% in October from 4% in September, which was the lowest rate since NAR launched that series in 2008.

The October median sales price of $232,200 was 6.0% above the same month a year ago, and represents the 56th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median condominium/co-op price dropped for the fourth consecutive month to $220,300 in October, but was up 6.2% from the same month a year ago.

Pending sales increased 1.5% last month, and September new home sales increased 3.1%. Builders continue to address the low inventory of homes as October single-family starts jumped 10.7% from September. Builder sentiment remains solid, and both jobs and incomes are growing. These positive reports suggest a steady upward path for existing sales.

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