After two months of increases, existing-home sales fell 2.2% in September compared with August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
However, existing-home sales were up 3.9% compared with September 2018.
Regionally, and month-over-month, existing-home sales fell 3.1% in the Midwest, 2.8% in the Northeast, 2.1% in the South and 0.9% in the West.
The decrease comes despite low mortgage rates and pent-up demand. As Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, explains, low inventory is mostly to blame for lackluster sales.
“We must continue to beat the drum for more inventory,” Yun says in a statement. “Home prices are rising too rapidly because of the housing shortage, and this lack of inventory is preventing home sales growth potential.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $272,100, up 5.9% compared with $256,900 in September 2018.
Total housing inventory at the end of September was around 1.83 million, approximately equal to the amount of existing-homes available for sale in August, but a 2.7% decrease from 1.88 million a year earlier.
That’s a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.0 months in August but down from 4.4 months in September 2018.
Properties typically remained on the market for 32 days in September, up from 31 days in August and flat compared with September 2018.
Forty-nine percent of homes sold in September 2019 were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 33% of sales in September, up from 31% in August and 32% in September 2018.