Existing-home sales were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million as of the end of October, an increase of 1.9% compared with September and an increase of 4.6% compared with October 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Regionally, and. month-over-month, existing-home sales increased 4.4% in the South and 1.6% in the Midwest but fell 1.4% in the Northeast and 0.9% in the West.
The increase follows a decrease of 2.2% the previous month.
Lack of inventory continued to hold existing-home sales back. Total housing inventory at the end of October sat at 1.77 million units, down approximately 2.7% compared with September and down 4.3% compared with a year earlier.
That’s about a 3.9-month supply at the current sales pace.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $270,900, an increase of 6.2% compared with October 2018.
October marked the 92nd straight month of year-over-year gains.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, forecasts that existing-home sales will strengthen in the months to come.
“Historically-low interest rates, continuing job expansion, higher weekly earnings and low mortgage rates are undoubtedly contributing to these higher numbers,” Yun says. “We will likely continue to see sales climb as long as potential buyers are presented with an adequate supply of inventory.”
In recent months, home builders have been ramping-up production, which should help alleviate the supply issue.
“The issuance of more housing permits is a very positive sign and a good step toward more inventory,” Yun says. “In order to better counter and even slow the increase in housing prices, home builders will have to bring additional homes on the market.”
Properties typically remained on the market for 36 days in October, up from 32 days in September and consistent with October 2018 numbers.
Forty-six percent of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 31% of sales in October, down from 33% in September and flat compared with October 2018.
Distressed sales represented 2% of sales in October, flat compared with September but down from 3% in October 2018.