Sales in the US were steady in August, but down 1.5% from the same month in 2017

Existing home sales in the United States remained steady in August after four straight months of decline as sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest cancelled out downturns in the South and West.

The data from the National Association of Realtors also shows that total sales remained at a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.34 million in August but are down 1.5% from a year ago.

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, the decline in existing home sales appears to have hit a plateau with robust regional sales. ‘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. With inventory stabilising and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market,’ he explained.

The index also shows that the median existing home price for all housing types in August was $264,800, up 4.65 from August 2017 and it was the 78th month in row of year on year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of August also remained unchanged from July at 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, and is up from 1.87 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3 month supply at the current sales pace, consistent from last month and up from 4.1 months a year ago.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 29 days in August, up from 27 days in July but down from 30 days a year ago and 52% of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a 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. 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,’ Yun pointed out.

‘Rising interests rates along with high home prices and lack of inventory continues to push entry level and first time home buyers out of the market. Realtors continue to report that the demand is there, that current renters want to become home owners, but there simply are not enough properties available in their price range,’ Yun added.

A breakdown of the figures show that sales in the Northeast increased 7.6% year on year with a median price of $292,800, up 2.6% from August 2017 while in the Midwest sales rose 2.4% but are still down 0.8% from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $208,500, up 3.4% from last year.

Existing home sales in the South decreased 0.4% with a median price of $227,900, up 3.2% from a year ago while in the West sales dropped 5.9%, some 7.4% below a year ago. The median price in the West was $392,900, up 4.8% from August 2017.