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No Gain, No Loss: Existing-Home Sales Stabilize

August existing-home sales stabilized, ending a regressive streak, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports. At 5.34 million, activity neither decreased nor increased from July, but was down 1.5 percent from the prior year. Inventory month-over-month also steadied, at 1.92 million—a jump from 1.87 million the prior year.

Activity was carried by the Midwest and Northeast, rising 2.4 percent to 1.28 million and 7.6 percent to 710,000 in the regions, respectively. The median in the Midwest was $208,500, while the median in the Northeast was $292,800. Activity lost momentum in South and West, down 0.4 percent to 2.23 million and 5.9 percent to 1.12 million, respectively. The median in the South was $227,900, while the median in the West was $392,900.

“Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.”

Currently, inventory is at a 4.3-month supply. In August, existing-home sales averaged 29 days on market, one day less than the prior year. All told, 52 percent of homes sold were on the market for less than one month.

“While inventory continues to show modest year-over-year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new-home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,” Yun says. “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory—especially moderately-priced, entry-level homes—would propel sales.”

“REALTORS® across the country report that their clients waver about the decision to list their home—they are excited by the prospect of receiving many offers; they are concerned that they will not be able to find a new home to purchase,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Unfortunately this fluctuating view is contributing to the short supply of homes. Buyers hoping to find an entry-level home in this market should work with a REALTOR® and be prepared to move quickly, as listings sell quickly.”

Across all house types (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome), the median price was $264,800, a 4.6 percent from the prior year.The median price in the single-family space was $267,300; the condo median was $244,500.

Month-over-month, sales in the single-family space were unchanged, at 4.75 million—down 1 percent from 4.8 million the prior year. Condo and co-op sales were also unchanged, at 590,000, and down 4.8 percent from the prior year.

Twenty percent of sales were all-cash, with 13 percent by individual investors. Three percent were distressed.

Additionally, first-time homebuyers comprised 31 percent of sales.

“Rising interests rates along with high home prices and lack of inventory continues to push entry-level and first-time homebuyers out of the market,” says Yun.

“REALTORS® continue to report that the demand is there—that current renters want to become homeowners—but there simply are not enough properties available in their price range.”

August’s hottest markets, based on®’s Market Hotness Index, were Midland, Texas; Fort Wayne, Ind.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Boise City, Idaho.

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