Total existing-home sales declined 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million in May from 4.62 million in April, but are 9.6% above the 4.15 million-unit pace in May 2011, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
NAR reports that the total housing inventory at the end of May slipped 0.4% to 2.49 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.6-month supply at the current sales pace; there was a 6.5-month supply in April. Listed inventory is 20.4% below a year ago, when there was a 9.1-month supply. Unsold inventory has trended down from a record 4.04 million in July 2007; supplies reached a cyclical peak of 12.1 months in July 2010.
Distressed homes accounted for 25% of May sales – 15% were foreclosures, and 10% were short sales – down from 28% in April and 31% in May 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 19% below market value in May, while short sales were discounted 14%.
First-time buyers accounted for 34% of purchasers in May, compared with 35% in April and 36% in May 2011. All-cash sales slipped to 28% of transactions in May from 29% in April; they were 30% in May 2011. Investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 17% of homes in May, down from 20% in April and 19% in May 2011.