WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 24, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Existing-home sales increased in June to their highest pace in over eight years, while the cumulative effect of rising demand and limited supply helped push the national median sales price to an all-time high, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions experienced sales gains in June and have now risen above year-over-year levels for six consecutive months.
Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.32 million in May. Sales are now at their highest pace since February 2007 (5.79 million), have increased year-over-year for nine consecutive months and are 9.6 percent above a year ago (5.01 million).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says backed by June’s solid gain in closings, this year’s spring buying season has been the strongest since the downturn. “Buyers have come back in force, leading to the strongest past two months in sales since early 2007,” he said. “This wave of demand is being fueled by a year-plus of steady job growth and an improving economy that’s giving more households the financial wherewithal and incentive to buy.”
Adds Yun, “June sales were also likely propelled by the spring’s initial phase of rising mortgage rates, which usually prods some prospective buyers to buy now rather than wait until later when borrowing costs could be higher.”
The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in June was $236,400, which is 6.5 percent above June 2014 and surpasses the peak median sales price set in July 2006 ($230,400). June’s price increase also marks the 40th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory3 at the end of June inched 0.9 percent to 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, and is 0.4 percent higher than a year ago (2.29 million). Unsold inventory is at a 5.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in May.
“Limited inventory amidst strong demand continues to push home prices higher, leading to declining affordability for prospective buyers,” said Yun. “Local officials in recent years have rightly authorized permits for new apartment construction, but more needs to be done for condominiums and single-family homes.”
The percent share of first-time buyers fell to 30 percent in June from 32 percent in May, but remained at or above 30 percent for the fourth consecutive month. A year ago, first-time buyers represented 28 percent of all buyers.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose in June to 3.98 from 3.84 percent in May, but remained just below 4.00 percent for the seventh straight month.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in June, down from May (40 days) and the shortest time since NAR began tracking in May 2011. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 129 days in June, while foreclosures sold in 39 days and non-distressed homes took 33 days. Forty-seven percent of homes sold in June were on the market for less than a month — the highest percentage since June 2013 (also 47 percent).
NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., says Realtors® are reporting drastic imbalances of supply in relation to demand in many metro areas — especially in the West. “The demand for buying has really heated up this summer, leading to multiple bidders and homes selling at or above asking price4,” he said. “Furthermore, tight inventory conditions are being exacerbated by the fact that some homeowners are hesitant to sell because they’re not optimistic they’ll have adequate time to find an affordable property to move into.”
Matching the lowest share since December 2009, all-cash sales were 22 percent of transactions in June, down from 24 percent in May and 32 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 12 percent of homes in June (14 percent in May) — the lowest since August 2014 (also 12 percent) and down from 16 percent in June 2014. Sixty-six percent of investors paid cash in June.
Distressed sales5 — foreclosures and short sales — fell to 8 percent in June (matching an August 2014 low) from 10 percent in May, and are below the 11 percent share a year ago. Six percent of June sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 15 percent below market value in June (unchanged from May), while short sales were discounted 18 percent (16 percent in May).
Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales increased 2.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in June from 4.71 million in May, and are now 9.8 percent above the 4.41 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $237,700 in June, up 6.6 percent from June 2014 and surpassing the peak median sales price set in July 2006 ($230,900).
Existing condominium and co-op sales rose 6.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 650,000 units in June from 610,000 units in May, up 8.3 percent from June 2014 (600,000 units) and the highest pace since May 2007 (680,000 units). The median existing condo price was $226,500 in June, which is 5.5 percent above a year ago and the highest since August 2007 ($229,200).
June existing-home sales in the Northeast climbed 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 720,000, and are now 12.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $281,200, which is 3.9 percent higher than June 2014.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.33 million in June, and are 12.7 percent above June 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $190,000, up 7.2 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South increased 2.3 percent to an annual rate of 2.20 million in June, and are 7.3 percent above June 2014. The median price in the South was $205,000, up 7.2 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West rose 2.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.24 million in June, and are 8.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $328,900, which is 9.9 percent above June 2014.
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NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.
1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.
Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample — about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month — and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.
2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.
The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.
3Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).
4According to NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, roughly 38 percent of properties sold last month went at or above asking price, which is also the average for the past three months. Before April 2015, the average was 32 percent (since NAR began tracking this monthly data in December 2012).
5Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.
NOTE: The Pending Home Sales Index for June will be released July 29, and Existing-Home Sales for July will be released August 20; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.