Sales of existing U.S. homes posted strong gains in September, mostly from first-time buyers, who made up 34 percent of the market, according to the latest monthly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A rate that high has not been seen in more than four years.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun described the bounce-back from two consecutive months of slumping sales as convincing.
“The home search over the past several months for a lot of prospective buyers, and especially for first-time buyers, took longer than usual because of the competition for the minimal amount of homes for sale,” Yun said in the report. “Most families and move-up buyers look to close before the new school year starts. Their diminishing presence from the market towards the end of summer created more opportunities for aspiring first-time homeowners to buy last month.”
Transactions involving co-ops, condominiums, single-family homes and townhouses rose 3.2 percent for the month, putting the rate at 5.33 million in total sales, down from 5.30 million in September – a rate that initially was reported at 5.33 million. Total sales topped out at 5.57 million, the most since June and .6 percent more than one year ago.
Click here to check mortgage rates in your area.
As far as prices are concerned, the existing-home-sales median for all four categories of housing jumped 5.6 percent from September of 2015, to $234,200. The report notes the increase marks the 55th straight month of gains. As far as inventory is concerned, it rose, too, this month, to 2.04 million, compared with 2.19 million one year ago. The 6.8-percent difference is the 16th straight month of drops in existing homes for sale.
To find the value of your home, check out our Home Value Estimator.
“Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in,” Yun said. “Unfortunately, there won’t be much relief from new-home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand.”
Some statistics to note from September’s report:
- Foreclosures and short sales, termed distressed sales, hit a refreshing new low of 4 percent for the month, compared with August’s 5 percent and 2015’s 7 percent.
- Cash sales came in as 21 percent of September’s total transactions, a decrease from August’s 22 percent and last year’s 24 percent.
- In the Northeast Region, existing-home sales increased to 740,000, and the median price increased to $261,600 from last year.
- In the Midwest Region, existing-home sales increased to 1.32 million, and the median price increased to $184,500 from last year.
- In the South Region, existing-home sales increased to 2.16 million, and the median price increased to $204,000 from last year.
- In the West Region, existing-home sales increased to 1.25 million, and the median price increased to $345,400 from last year.
Headquartered in Chicago, the National Association of Realtors represents the “voice of real estate” and an estimated 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the industry.