Existing home sales faded in September, according to the National Association of REALTORS. Among the four major U.S. regions, sales rose in the Northeast but receded in the Midwest, South, and West. All four regions registered year-over-year sales declines.

Total existing-home sales1 – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops – waned 2.0% from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.96 million in September. Year-over-year, sales dropped 15.4% (down from 4.68 million in September 2022).

“As has been the case throughout this year, limited inventory and low housing affordability continue to hamper home sales,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a news release. “The Federal Reserve simply cannot keep raising interest rates in light of softening inflation and weakening job gains.”

Total housing inventory2 registered at the end of September was 1.13 million units, up 2.7% from August but down 8.1% from one year ago (1.23 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 3.3 months in August and 3.2 months in September 2022.

The median existing home price3 for all housing types in September was $394,300, an increase of 2.8% from September 2022 ($383,500). All four U.S. regions posted price increases.

“For the third straight month, home prices are up from a year ago, confirming the pressing need for more housing supply,” Yun said.

REALTORS Confidence Index

According to the REALTORS Confidence Index, properties typically remained on the market for 21 days in September, up from 20 days in August and 19 days in September 2022. Sixty-nine percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers were responsible for 27% of sales in September, down from 29% in August 2023 and September 2022. NAR’s 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in November 20224 – found that the annual share of first-time buyers was 26%, the lowest since NAR began tracking the data.

All-cash sales accounted for 29% of transactions in September, up from 27% in August and 22% in September 2022.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 18% of homes in September, up from 16% in August and 15% one year ago.

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 1% of sales in September, unchanged from last month and the previous year.

Mortgage Rates

According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage(link is external) averaged 7.57% as of October 12. That’s up from 7.49% the previous week and 6.92% one year ago.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales slipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.53 million in September, down 1.9% from 3.6 million in August and 15.8% from the prior year. The median single-family home price was $399,200 in September, up 2.5% from September 2022.

Existing condominium and co-op sales recorded a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 430,000 units in September, down 2.3% from August and 12.2% from one year ago. The median existing condo price was $353,800 in September, up 6.8% from the prior year ($331,300).

Regional Breakdown

Existing home sales in the Northeast rose 4.2% from August to an annual rate of 500,000 in September, down 16.7% from September 2022. The median price in the Northeast was $439,900, up 5.2% from the prior year.

In the Midwest, existing home sales declined by 4.1% from the previous month to an annual rate of 930,000 in September, down 18.4% from one year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $293,300, up 4.7% from September 2022.

Existing home sales in the South dipped 1.1% from August to an annual rate of 1.82 million in September, a decrease of 11.7% from the previous year. The median price in the South was $360,500, up 3.1% from September 2022.

In the West, existing home sales trailed off 5.3% from the previous month to an annual rate of 710,000 in September, down 19.3% from one year ago. The median price in the West was $606,100, up 1.8% from September 2022.

“The Northeast posted the strongest price gain resulting from higher demand coupled with inventory falling by 20%,” Yun said. “The West experienced softer price growth reflecting a pause after years of unsustainable and rapid price increases, especially in the Rocky Mountain region.”

Methodology

1 Existing home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR benchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing home sales, which account for more than 90% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when the monthly collection of condo data began. Before this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales before 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (before 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90% of transactions, and condos were measured only every quarter).

3 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices are sometimes revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s REALTORS Confidence Index, which includes all types of buyers. The annual study only represents primary residence purchases and does not include investor and vacation home buyers. Results include both new and existing homes.

5 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on the market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions, and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s REALTORS® Confidence Index, posted at nar. realtor.

Source: NAR