Existing-home sales slightly declined in May as the median sales price climbed to a record high, according to the National Association of REALTORS. In the four major U.S. regions, sales slid month-over-month in the South but were unchanged in the Northeast, Midwest, and West. Year-over-year, sales rose in the Midwest but receded in the Northeast, South, and West.

Total existing-home sales1 – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops – retreated 0.7% from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.11 million in May. Year-over-year, sales waned 2.8% (down from 4.23 million in May 2023).

“Eventually, more inventory will help boost home sales and tame home price gains in the upcoming months,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a news release. “Increased housing supply spells good news for consumers who want to see more properties before making purchasing decisions.”

Total housing inventory2 registered at the end of May was 1.28 million units, up 6.7% from April and 18.5% from one year ago (1.08 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 3.7-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 3.5 months in April and 3.1 months in May 2023.

The median existing home price3 for all housing types in May was $419,300, the highest price ever recorded and an increase of 5.8% from one year ago ($396,500). All four U.S. regions registered price gains.

“Home prices reaching new highs are creating a wider divide between those owning properties and those who wish to be first-time buyers,” Yun added. “The mortgage payment for a typical home today is more than double that of homes purchased before 2020. Still, first-time buyers in the market understand the long-term benefits of owning.”

REALTORS Confidence Index

According to the monthly REALTORS Confidence Index, properties typically remained on the market for 24 days in May, down from 26 days in April but up from 18 days in May 2023.

First-time buyers were responsible for 31% of sales in May, down from 33% in April but up from 28% in May 2023. NAR’s 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in November 20234 – found that the annual share of first-time buyers was 32%.

All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions in May, unchanged from April and up from 25% one year ago.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 16% of homes in May, identical to April and up from 15% in May 2023.

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 2% of sales in May, unchanged from last month and the previous year.

Mortgage Rates

According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage(link is external) averaged 6.87% as of June 20. That’s down from 6.95% the prior week but up from 6.67% one year ago.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.71 million in May, down 0.8% from 3.74 million in April and 2.1% from the prior year. The median existing single-family home price was $424,500 in May, up 5.7% from May 2023.

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 400,000 units in May, existing condominium and co-op sales were unchanged from last month and down 9.1% from one year ago (440,000 units). The median existing condo price was $371,300 in May, up 5.1% from the previous year ($353,300).

Regional Breakdown

Existing home sales in the Northeast in May were identical to April at an annual rate of 480,000, a decline of 4% from May 2023. The median price in the Northeast was $479,200, up 9.2% from the prior year.

In the Midwest, existing home sales were unchanged from one month ago at an annual rate of 1 million in May, up 1% from one year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $317,100, up 6.4% from May 2023.

Existing home sales in the South fell 1.6% from April to an annual rate of 1.87 million in May, down 5.1% from the previous year. The median price in the South was $374,300, up 3.6% from last year.

In the West, existing home sales in May were equivalent to April at an annual rate of 760,000, a drop of 1.3% from one year before. The median price in the West was $632,900, up 5.5% from May 2023.

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 sometimes are 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: IRS