First-Time Home Buyers Help Lift Existing-Home Sales In September

Existing-home sales rebounded in September, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million – an increase of 3.2% compared with a downwardly revised 5.30 million in August, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

On a year-over-year basis, existing-home sales were up 0.6% compared with September 2015, when the annual pace was about 5.44 million.

The median price for all housing types (single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops) was $234,200, up 5.6% compared with $221,700 in September 2015.

September was the 55th consecutive month that existing home sales increased on a year-over-year basis.

Helping to propel existing home sales in September was an increase in the share of first time homebuyers, who represented about 34% of all sales. That is a sharp increase compared with about 31% in August. Before the crisis, first-time home buyers represented between 35% and 40% of all home sales.

All major regions saw an increase in closings last month, and distressed sales fell to a new low of 4% of the market.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, says the increase in first-time buyers in September is likely due to the fact that the home search process is taking longer, due to limited inventory. Many of these first time- homebuyers, he says, probably started their search in the spring, but did not close until fall.

“The home search over the past several months for a lot of prospective buyers, and especially for first-time buyers, took longer than usual because of the competition for the minimal amount of homes for sale,” Yun says. “Most families and move-up buyers look to close before the new school year starts. Their diminishing presence from the market towards the end of summer created more opportunities for aspiring first-time homeowners to buy last month.”

As of the end of September there were about 2.04 million existing homes available for sale – an increase of 1.5% compared with August but a decrease of 6.8% compared with September 2015.

At the current sales pace, that’s about a 4.5-month supply.

“Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in,” adds Yun. “Unfortunately, there won’t be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand.”

For more, including a regional breakdown, click here.


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