Existing Sales Retreat 0.4% in May


Existing-home sales decreased 0.4% in May to a level 3.0% below a year ago, and sales have now decreased year-over-year for three consecutive months. The first-time buyer share of 31% was down from 33% last month and a year ago. The National Association of Realtors reported that 58% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month, up from 57% last month. The May inventory increased 2.8%, but remains 6.1% below the level a year ago, and has decreased for 36 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. At the current sales rate, the May unsold inventory represents a 4.1-month supply, down from a 4.2-month supply a year ago. May existing sales reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.43 million units, compared to 5.45 million in April. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

Existing sales increased in the Northeast by 4.6%, but fell by 0.4% in the South, 0.8% in the West and 2.3% in the Midwest. Year-over-year sales were unchanged in the South, but decreased by 2.3% in the Midwest, 4.1% in the West and 11.7% in the Northeast.

Homes stayed on the market for 26 days in May, unchanged from April, and down from 27 days a year ago.

The May all-cash sales share was 21%, unchanged from April and down from 22% a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 15% share in May, unchanged from last month and down from 16% a year ago.

The May median sales price of $264,800 was up 4.9% from a year ago and an all-time high, representing the 75th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The May median condominium/co-op price of $244,100 was up 2.5% from a year ago.

The increase in demand for existing homes continues to face the challenge of limited inventory, higher prices and higher mortgage rates. Builder confidence slipped to 68, reflecting the soaring increase in lumber prices. However, strong job growth and the expected increase in demand from millennials will continue to fuel a strong market for new residential construction.

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