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NAR: Sept. Existing-Home Sales Soar 9.4%

Americans are buying homes. Sales rose 22% year-to-year as inventory hit a record low (2.7 months) and more than 70% of homes were on the market less than a month.

WASHINGTON – Existing-home sales grew for the fourth consecutive month in September, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), and each of the four major regions saw month-over-month and year-over-year growth.

Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 9.4% from August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million in September. Overall sales rose 20.9% year-over-year, up from 5.41 million in September 2019.

“Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season,” says 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-home price for all housing types in September was $311,800, up 14.8% from September 2019 ($271,500), with prices higher in all four regions studied. September’s national price increase marks 103 straight months of year-over-year gains.

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). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.0 months in August and down from 4.0 months one year earlier.

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

Sales in vacation destination counties have seen a strong acceleration since July, with a 34% year-over-year gain in September.

“The uncertainty about when the pandemic will end coupled with the ability to work from home appears to have boosted sales in summer resort regions, including Lake Tahoe, mid-Atlantic beaches (Rehoboth Beach, Myrtle Beach), and the Jersey shore areas,” Yun says.

Properties typically remained on the market for 21 days in September – an all-time low. That’s down from 22 days seasonally adjusted and down from 32 days in September 2019. Seventy-one percent of homes sold in September 2020 were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers were behind 31% of September’s sales, down from the 33% in both August 2020 and September 2019.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who account for many cash sales, purchased 12% of homes in September – a small decline from the 14% figure recorded in both August 2020 and September 2019. All-cash sales accounted for 18% of transactions in September, unchanged from August but up from 17% in September 2019.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – represented less than 1% of sales in September, equal to August’s percentage but down from 2% in September 2019.

“Home sales flourished this past month, even as we contend with an ongoing and unforgiving pandemic,” says NAR President Vince Malta. “I couldn’t be prouder of all the brokerages and Realtors who have helped us navigate these challenging times to ensure our nation’s economy continues moving forward.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 2.89% in September, down from 2.94% in August. The average commitment rate across all of 2019 was 3.94%.

Single-family and condo/co-op sales: Single-family home sales sat at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.87 million in September, up 9.7% from 5.35 million in August, and up 21.8% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $316,200 in September, up 15.2% from September 2019.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 670,000 units in September, up 6.3% from August and up 13.6% from one year ago. The median existing condo price was $272,700 in September, an increase of 9.9% from a year ago.

Regional breakdown: For four straight months, home sales have grown month-to-month in every region – and at double-digit rates year-to-year in all four regions studied.

September 2020 saw existing-home sales in the Northeast jump 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.

Existing-home sales in the South 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.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®