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First Cut: Existing Home Sales dip in September after near-term peak in August

Sales of existing homes dipped 2.2% in September to 5.38 million units (SAAR) after 5.50 million units in August which was the highest since 5.51 million in March 2018. Sales of single-family units were the main reason with a 2.6% decline to 4.78 million after 4.91 million in August. Sales of multi-unit homes were up 1.7% in September to 600,000 from 590,000.

Single-family home sales have picked up substantially with the declines in mortgage interest rates, although the NAR report decried the continued lack of inventory that has restrained sales even as mortgage rates have declined sharply in recent months.

In spite of the competition for the most sought-after units, the median price of a home was down 2.4% in September from August to $272,100, although it was up 5.9% compared to a year-ago. It is typical for prices to be lower at quarter-end and rise again in the next month.

The supply of homes on the market was at 4.1 months’ worth in September, similar to the 4.0 in August and 4.2 in July. Even with a more active market, units are not coming up for sale more than grudgingly.

Sales were down in all four regions. The Midwest was down 3.1% to 1.27 million units, Northeast was off 2.8% to 690,000, and South was down 2.1% to 2.28 million, and the West slipped 0.9% to 1.14 million. The fairly even distribution suggest that conditions are similar across regions.

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