Existing-home sales show September strength

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Existing-home sales show September strength

By Andy Carlo - 10/22/2020
September existing-home sales metrics from the National Association of Realtors.

In another sign of housing’s continued strength in 2020, existing-home sales have increased for the fourth-straight month.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that total existing-home sales jumped 9.4% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million. This includes sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops.

Year-over-year, existing-home sales are up 20.9% compared to a pace of 5.41 million in September 2019.

Existing single-family home sales jumped 9.7% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.87 million in September from 5.35 million in August. This is also a 21.8% increase on year-over-year basis.

While sales typically begin to lessen later in the year, that’s not the case in 2020.

"Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "I would attribute this jump to record-low interest rates and an abundance of buyers in the marketplace, including buyers of vacation homes given the greater flexibility to work from home."

The median existing single-family home price was $316,200 in September, up 15.2% from September 2019. The median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $311,800, up 14.8% from September 2019 and a price of$271,500.

Prices increased in every region and September’s national price increase marks 103 straight months of year-over-year gains.

Here's how existing-home sales break down by region:

  • In the Northeast, sales jumped 16.2%, recording an annual rate of 860,000, a 22.9% increase from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $354,600, up 17.8% from September 2019.
  • Existing-home sales grew 7.1% in the Midwest to an annual rate of 1,510,000 in September, up 19.8% from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $243,100, a 14.8% increase from September 2019.
  •  In the South, sales increased 8.5% to an annual rate of 2.80 million in September, up 22.3% from the same time one year ago. The median price in the South was $266,900, a 13.0% increase from a year ago.
  • Existing-home sales in the West rose 9.6% to an annual rate of 1,370,000 in September, an 18.1% increase from a year ago. The median price in the West was $470,800, up 17.1% from September 2019.

Looking ahead, inventory could begin to pose a problem.

Total housing inventory at the end of September totaled 1.47 million units, down 1.3% from August and down 19.2% from one year ago (1.82 million).

And unsold inventory sits at a 2.7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 3-month supply in August and down from the 4-month figure in September 2019.

"There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low," Yun said. "To their credit, we have seen some homebuilders move to ramp up supply, but a need for even more production still exists."