Friday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Existing Home Sales fell 3.4% month-over-month in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million. This was below the consensus forecast of 5.30 million and was the lowest sales level since November 2015. Also, total sales were 4.1% lower on a year-over-year basis.
Single-family home sales were 3.4% lower month-over-month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million and were 4.0% below the year-ago sales level. Existing home inventory for sale at the end of September fell from 1.91 million to 1.88 million but was up 1.1% from a year ago. Unsold inventory currently stands at a 4.4-month supply versus 4.3 months in August and remains below the 6.0-month supply typically associated with a balanced market. The median existing home price for all housing types rose 4.2% to $258,100 – the 79th straight month of year-over-year gains. The median existing single-family home price was up 4.6% from a year ago to $260,500. First-time buyers accounted for 32% of sales in September, up from 31% in August and 29% a year ago. Coupled with the Housing Starts and Building Permits data, it appears a combination of high home prices, low inventory of affordable homes, rising mortgage rates, and the new tax law limiting incentives for homeownership are having an adverse impact on the housing sector this year.