After four consecutive months of declines, existing home sales did not change from the previous month and are down 1.5 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
In August, the median existing home price was $264,800, up 4.6 percent from August 2017, marking the 78th month in a row of year-over-year gains.
Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist calls the data a plateau. “Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,” he said. “With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.”
NAR has repeatedly beaten the drum to the tune of pointing out home builders failing to meet demand, and this month is no different as Dr. Yun repeats the assertion, adding, “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory – especially moderately priced, entry-level homes – would propel sales.”
Meanwhile, the average days on market rose from 27 in July to 29 in August, but for context, the market is still on task as it is still down from 30 days a year ago. Over half (52 percent) of homes sold in August sold in less than a month.
What’s of particular interest in the current market is how differently the regions are performing:
- Home sales rose 7.6 percent in the Northeast, but are 2.7 percent below a year ago. The median price rose 2.6 percent to $292,800.
- Home sales rose 2.4 percent in the Midwest, but are 0.8 percent below a year ago. The median price rose 3.4 percent to $208,500.
- Home sales fell 0.4 percent in the South, but are up 1.8 percent from a year ago. The median price rose 3.2 percent to $227.900.
- Home sales fell 5.9 percent in the West, and are 7.4 percent below a year ago. The median price rose 4.8 percent to $392,900.
“Rising interests rates along with high home prices and lack of inventory continues to push entry-level and first time home buyers out of the market,” said Dr. Yun. “Realtors® continue to report that the demand is there – that current renters want to become homeowners – but there simply are not enough properties available in their price range.”
“Realtors® across the country report that their clients waver about the decision to list their home; they are excited by the prospect of receiving many offers, they are concerned that they will not be able to find a new home to purchase,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Unfortunately this fluctuating view is contributing to the short supply of homes.”