Existing-Home Sales Increased in August But Inventory Remains Low

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Existing-home sales increased 1.3% in August compared with July and were up 2.6% compared with August 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million, up from 5.35 million a year earlier.

It was the second consecutive month that existing-home sales increased.

Regionally, and month-over-month, sales increased 7.6% in the Northeast, 3.1% in the Midwest and 0.9% in the South. However, they decreased 3.4% in the West.

Although overall sales increased, supply remained limited. As of the end of August, there were about 1.86 million existing homes for sale, nationwide, down from 1.90 million in July and down from 1.91 million in August 2018.

That’s about a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace.

Also constraining sales in August was rising home prices. The median home price for all housing types (NAR includes single-family homes, condos and co-ops) was $278,200, up 4.7% from $265,600 in August 2018.

August marked the 90th straight month of year-over-year price gains.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, attributed the increase in sales to falling mortgage rates. “As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates,” Yun says in a statement. “The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.”

However, “inventory numbers remain low and are thereby pushing up home prices,” Yun says. 

“Homebuilders need to ramp-up new housing, as the failure to increase construction will put home prices in danger of increasing at a faster pace than income,” he adds.

Properties typically remained on the market for 31 days in August, up from 29 days in July and up from 29 days in August 2018.

Forty-nine percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month, NAR’s data shows.

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