As low inventory continues to push home prices higher and squeeze out some buyers, existing home sales dropped to a eleven-month low in May, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median existing home price in May surged to an all-time high; the largest annual pace on record.
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.80 million in May, the lowest level since July 2020. However, on a year-over-year basis, sales were still 44.6% higher than a year ago.
The first-time buyer share remained at 31% in May, even with April but down from 34% a year ago. The May inventory level increased from 1.15 to 1.23 million units but is still down from 1.55 million units a year ago.
At the current sales rate, the May unsold inventory sit at a 2.5-month supply, slightly up from April’s 2.4-month but still down from 4.6-month a year ago. This low level supply of resale homes is good news for home construction.
Homes stayed on the market for an average of just 17 days in May, an all-time low, unchanged from April and down from 26 days a year ago. In May, 89% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.
The May all-cash sales share was 23% of transactions, down from 25% last month and 17% a year ago.
Tight supply continues to push up home prices. The May median sales price of all existing homes was $350,300, up 23.6% from a year ago, representing the 111st consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median existing condominium/co-op price of $306,000 in May was up 21.5% from a year ago.
Geographically, three of four regions saw a decline in existing home sales in May, ranging from 0.4% in the South to 4.1% in the West. Sales in the Midwest rose 1.6% in May. On a year-over-year basis, however, sales continued to grow by double-digits in all four regions, ranging from 27.2% in the Midwest to 61.6% in the West.
Meanwhile, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), also reported by the NAR, is a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts. The PHSI declined 4.4% from 111.1 to 106.2 in April. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 51.7% higher than a year ago.
Though consumers are facing higher home prices and declining housing affordability, housing demand is expected to remain solid due to historically favorable mortgage rates and a promising economic outlook. Meanwhile, rising material prices and supply chain shortage are limiting builders’ abilities to meet the increased level of demand. The imbalance between housing supply and demand could hamper future sales by driving up house prices and eroding affordability.