Sales increased for second month in a row in the US but still below a year ago

Existing home sales in the United States increased in October to their strongest pace since earlier this summer, but continual supply shortages led to fewer transactions on an annual basis.

Overall sales were up by 2% month on month with increases in all four major regions but are still 0.9% below where they were in October 2016, according to the latest index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

‘Job growth in most of the country continues to carry on at a robust level and is starting to slowly push up wages, which is in turn giving households added assurance that now is a good time to buy a home,’ said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

‘While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated,’ he pointed out.

‘The residual effects on sales from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are still seen in parts of Texas and Florida. However, sales should completely bounce back to their pre-storm levels by the end of the year, as demand for buying in these areas was very strong before the storms,’ he added.

The index also shows that the median home price for all housing types in October was $247,000, up 5.5% from October 2016 and 68th straight month of year on year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of October decreased 3.2% to 1.8 million existing homes available for sale and is now 10.4% lower than a year ago and has fallen year on year for 29 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.9 month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.4 months a year ago.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in October, which is unchanged from last month and down from 41 days a year ago and 47% of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month.

A breakdown of the figures show that sales in the Northeast rose 4.2% with a median price of $272,800 which is 6.6% above October 2016 while in the Midwest they increased 0.8% with prices up 7.1% to $194,700.

In the South sales increased 1.9 but are still 1.8% lower than a year ago while the median price was $214,900, up 4.6% from a year ago. Sales in the West grew 2.4% and are now 0.8% above a year ago. The median price in the West was $375,100, up 7.8% from October 2016.

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