National Association of Realtors

25 August 2017

Listings in July typically went under contract in under 30 days for the fourth consecutive month because of high buyer demand, but existing-home sales ultimately pulled back as large declines in the Northeast and Midwest outweighed sales increases in the South and West, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales1https://www.nar.realtor/topics/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slipped 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million in July from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in June. July’s sales pace is still 2.1 percent above a year ago, but is the lowest of 2017.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the second half of the year got off on a somewhat sour note as existing sales in July inched backward. “Buyer interest in most of the country has held up strongly this summer and homes are selling fast, but the negative effect of not enough inventory to choose from and its pressure on overall affordability put the brakes on what should’ve been a higher sales pace,” he said. “Contract activity has mostly trended downward since February and ultimately put a large dent on closings last month.”

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in July was $258,300, up 6.2 percent from July 2016 ($243,200). July’s price increase marks the 65th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of July declined 1.0 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 9.0 percent lower than a year ago (2.11 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 26 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.8 months a year ago.

“Home prices are still rising above incomes and way too fast in many markets,” said Yun. “Realtors® continue to say prospective buyers are frustrated by how quickly prices are rising for the minimal selection of homes that fit buyers’ budget and wish list.”

Properties typically stayed on the market for 30 days in July, which is up from 28 days in June but down from 36 days a year ago. Fifty-one percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in July were Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 28 days; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 30 days; and Salt Lake City, Utah, and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., 31 days.

“July was the fourth consecutive month that the typical listing went under contract in under one month,” said Yun. “This speaks to the significant pent-up demand for buying rather than any perceived loss of interest. The frustrating inability for new home construction to pick up means inadequate supply levels will keep markets competitive heading into the fall.”

First-time buyers were 33 percent of sales in July, which is up from 32 percent both in June and a year ago. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20164 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.

According to President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, there’s a prominent misconception – especially among non-homeowners – that a down payment of at least 20 percent is needed to buy a home. “Every month this year, roughly 60 percent of buyers who financed their purchase with a mortgage made a down payment that was 6 percent or less5,” he said. “Potential buyers with solid employment and manageable levels of debt will find that there are mortgage options available. Talk to a lender to find out what you qualify for based on your savings and let that guide you as you begin your home search with a Realtor®.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment ratefor a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.97 percent in July from 3.90 percent in June. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

All-cash sales were 19 percent of transactions in July, up from 18 percent in June but down from 21 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in July, unchanged from June and down from 11 percent a year ago. Distressed sales6 – foreclosures and short sales – were 5 percent of sales in July, up from 4 percent in June and unchanged from a year ago. Four percent of July sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales decreased 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in July from 4.88 million in June, but are still 1.7 percent above the 4.76 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $260,600 in July, up 6.3 percent from July 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 600,000 units in July, but are still 5.3 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $239,800 in July, which is 5.3 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

July existing-home sales in the Northeast dropped 14.5 percent to an annual rate of 650,000, and are now 1.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $290,000, which is 4.1 percent above July 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales fell 5.3 percent to an annual rate of 1.25 million in July, and are now 1.6 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $205,400, up 5.9 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South rose 2.2 percent to an annual rate of 2.28 million in July, and are now 3.6 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $227,700, up 6.7 percent from a year ago. Existing-home sales in the West jumped 5.0 percent to an annual rate of 1.26 million in July, and are 5.0 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $373,000, up 7.6 percent from July 2016. The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1 Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

3 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’sRealtors® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.

5 According to NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, an average of 62 percent of buyers who financed their purchase with a mortgage made a down payment of 6 percent or less.

6 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.