September Existing Sales Slightly Up


September existing sales increased slightly by 0.7% for the first time in four months, but the first-time buyer share decreased to 29% of sales, the lowest share since September 2015. The National Association of Realtors reported that parts of Texas and South Florida had temporary but notable declines due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Some 48% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month, compared to 51% in August. September inventory increased 1.6%, but remains 6.4% below the level a year ago, having decreased for the 28th consecutive month. At the current sales rate, the September unsold inventory represents a 4.2-month supply, down from a 4.5 -month supply a year ago.  September existing sales reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.39 million units. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

September existing sales increased 3.3% in the West and 1.6% in the Midwest, but dropped 0.9% in the South, while the Northeast remained unchanged. Year-over-year, the West remained unchanged, but the other regions declined: the South by 2.3%, the Midwest by 1.5% and the Northeast by 1.4%.

Homes stayed on the market for 34 days in September, up from 30 days in August, but down from 39 days a year ago.

The September all-cash sales share was 20%, unchanged from August and down from 21% a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 15% share of sales in September, unchanged from August and a year ago.

The September median sales price fell for a third consecutive month to $245,100 from a revised $253,100 in August and $258,100 in July, but was up 4.2% from last year, representing the 67th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The September median condominium/co-op price also fell for the third consecutive month to $231,300 from $239,800 in August and 240,400 in July, but was up 4.1% from a year ago.

July and August pending sales declined, so the slight uptick in existing sales was good news with the delayed sales from the hurricanes still evolving. Despite a drop last month due to the hurricanes, single-family construction is 9.1% ahead of last year, and builder confidence increased four points in October. Personal income gains and jobs will continue to spur more first-time buyers to enter the housing market.

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