Despite the slowdown last month, existing home sales, released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), climbed more than expected in October.
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million in October. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 4.6% higher than a year ago.
The first-time buyer share fell to 31% in October from 33% last month but remained unchanged from a year ago. The October inventory decreased to 1.77 million units from 1.82 million units in September and 1.85 million units a year ago. At the current sales rate, the October unsold inventory represents a 3.9-month supply, down from a 4.1-month supply last month and down from a 4.3-month a year ago.
Homes stayed on the market for an average of 36 days in October, up from 32 days both last month and equal to a year ago. In October, 46% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.
The October all-cash sales shared 19% of transactions, up from 17% last month but down from 23% a year ago.
The October median sales price of all existing homes was $270,900, up 6.2% from a year ago, representing the 92nd consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median existing condominium/co-op price of $248,500 in October was up 5.6% from a year ago.
Regionally, while existing sales in the Midwest and South grew 1.6% and 4.4% compared to the previous month, sales fell 1.4% and 0.9% in the Northeast and the West. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose in all four major regions except for the Northeast, ranging from 2.4% in the Midwest to 7.8% in the South. Sales in the Northeast remained unchanged to October 2018.
The October gain in overall sales indicates that lower mortgage rates and continuing job expansion, with a slower growth in home prices, provide a lift to existing home sales. And an increase in housing permits is also a positive sign for inventory, though more new home building is needed to meet housing demand. Given current favorable conditions, NAR expects sales will continue to rise in the coming months. Meanwhile, supported by low mortgage rates and solid job growth, builder confidence remained firm in November.