Sales of existing homes rose 4.7 percent in September to the second-highest pace in eight years. Continued low interest rates and a lot of pent-up demand keeps the housing recovery going.
Existing-home sales rose in September from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million, the National Association of Realtors said last Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a rise of 1.7 percent to 5.4 million.
It was the fourth month of gains in the past five months.
September’s rise followed a sharp drop in August, which came on the heels of three straight months of gains.
August’s sales were revised down to 5.3 million from an initial estimate of 5.31 million.
The national median home price was $221,900 in September, up 6.1 percent from September 2014.
The housing market has been robust in many markets across the country, while prices have risen year-over-year for more than three years now.
Inventory of existing homes for sale stood at 4.8 months’ worth of supply at the current pace of sales, down from 5.1 months’ worth in August. Most say a balanced market is having a 6 month inventory of home for sale.
For home buyers looking this fall, inventory has a less worrisome feel, as we come off our peak buying season.
Most now have their eye on the Spring market next year. Based on the current trends, many feel we could be facing even tighter inventories once the spring buying season returns, unless home builders really ramp up production.
U.S. home building rebounded in September after two straight months of declines, the Commerce Department said earlier this week, largely due to a sharp increase in construction of apartments and other multifamily housing. But home builders have reported labor shortages as many construction workers who lost jobs during the recession moved on to other industries or left the labor market altogether.
Sales were up in all four regions of the country in September, with the biggest percentage increase in the Northeast. Existing-home sales rose 8.6 percent from August to an annual rate of 760,000, 11.8 percent above September a year ago.
The action was concentrated in single-family home sales, which rose 5.3 percent from August. The rate of sales of existing condominiums and co-ops was unchanged from August at 620,000, up 3.3 percent from a year-ago September.
Homes typically stayed on the market for 49 days in September, down from 56 days in September 2014, but up from 47 days in August. It also is 44 percent longer than the average period of 34 days in June, which was the shortest period since the NAR began tracking these figures in 2011.
The constrained supply could potentially foster unsustainable price gains, which could temper demand, especially among first-time home buyers.
Whether the housing market can sustain its relatively robust activity in the face of global headwinds remains to be seen. The pace of job creation slowed in September, with employers adding just 142,000 jobs, and an average of 167,000 a month over the past three months. That three-month rate was the slowest pace since Feb. 2014.
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