Existing-home sales rose in August, marking two consecutive months of gains, even as a limited number of homes for sale remains a pressing issue on the market, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. Three of the four major regions of the U.S. saw an uptick last month, the West being the only region not to see an increase in sales.
“As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current [mortgage] rates,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.”
Total existing-home sales—completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—increased 1.3% in August from July, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million. Sales are up 2.6% from a year ago.
But while sales are up, housing inventory numbers remain low. It’s “pushing up home prices,” Yun says. “Home builders need to ramp up new housing, as the failure to increase construction will put home prices in danger of increasing at a faster pace than income.”
Here’s a closer look at additional housing indicators from NAR’s latest housing report:
- Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $278,200, up 4.7% from a year ago.
- Inventories: Housing inventories at the end of August fell to 1.86 million, a 2.6% decrease from 1.91 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace.
- Days on the market: Forty-nine percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month. The average days on the market in August was 31 days, up from 29 days a year ago.
- First-time buyers: First-time buyers comprised 31% of sales in August, matching levels from a year ago.
- All-cash transactions: All-cash sales made up 19% of transactions in August, slightly down from 20% a year ago. Investors make up the bulk of all-cash sales and purchased 14% of homes in August, up from 13% a year ago.
- Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales comprised 2% of sales in August, down from 3% a year ago.