Last month existing home sales in the United States increased for the second consecutive month and according to data from the National Association of Realtors, are now higher than year on year levels for the first time in 12 months.
The total number of existing home sales which includes completed transactions for condominiums, co-ops, townhomes and single-family homes increased by 1.5%, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million last month, which is up from a 5.18 million in September. The number of sales is now at its highest annual level since September last year when sales also reached a 5.26 million, and is higher than year on year levels for the first time since October 2013.
According to real estate experts, sales levels in October reached the highest annual pace of this year due to improved levels of inventory, price growth stabilization and continued low interest rates. In addition the jobs market has strengthened over the past six months and it’s anticipated demand will continue to be solid at least until the end of the year.
The data from the NAR also shows that the median existing home price for all types of property in October was a $208,300 which is 5.5% higher than October last year and marks 32 consecutive months of year on year price gains. The amount of total housing inventory available at the end of October was 2.2 million existing homes, a drop of 2.6%. This figure represents a 5.1 months’ supply at the current rate of sales and this is the lowest since March this year. The amount of unsold inventory is now 5.2% higher than a year earlier when there were 2.11 million existing homes listed for sale.
It’s expected the growth in housing inventory this year will help prevent the sales slowdown experienced last winter, but in spite of this experts still feel more housing starts are needed to increase supply and to meet current demand, and to make sure price growth is kept in check.
All cash sales accounted for 27% of transactions last month, up from 24% the previous month but down from 31% recorded in October 2013. Individual investors accounted for 15% of home purchases in October, up slightly from 14% in September but down on the 19% recorded in October 2013.
According to the article in Propertywire, the percentage of first-time buyers was 29% for October and has remained steady for the past four consecutive months. The percentage of first-time buyers has been less than 30% in 18 out of the past 19 months.