Existing Home Sales Edge Higher

(Courtesy National Association of Realtors, Washington, D.C.)

Existing home sales grew 0.2% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.30 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

But sales retreated 20.4% from a year ago, NAR said in its monthly existing home sales data release.

Sales were mixed among the four major U.S. regions, with the South and West posting improvements and the Northeast and Midwest experiencing pullbacks, NAR said. All four regions experienced year-over-year sales declines.

“Mortgage rates heavily influence the direction of home sales,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Relatively steady rates have led to several consecutive months of consistent home sales.”

NAR said total housing inventory registered 1.08 million units on May 31, up 3.8% from April but down 6.1% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 2.9 months in April and 2.6 months in May 2022.

“Available inventory strongly impacts home sales, too,” Yun noted. “Newly constructed homes are selling at a pace reminiscent of pre-pandemic times because of abundant inventory in that sector. However, existing-home sales activity is down sizably due to the current supply being roughly half the level of 2019.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in May equaled $396,100, down 3.1% from May 2022, NAR reported. Prices grew in the Northeast and Midwest but fell in the South and West.

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in May, down from 22 days in April but up from 16 days in May 2022. Nearly three-quarters of homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers were responsible for 28% of sales in May, down from 29% in April, the report said. NAR’s 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers released in November 2022 found the annual share of first-time buyers was 26%, the lowest since NAR began tracking the data.

All-cash sales accounted for 25% of transactions in May, down from 28% in April and identical to one year ago, the association said.