Sales Up All Across U.S., Realtors Report

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported on Monday that existing-home sales across the country rose strongly in May. Existing-home sales in the west rose 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.09 million last month, which is 11.4 percent below sales this time last year. 

The median existing-home price for all housing types in May in the United States was $213,400, up 5.1 percent from this time last year. The median price in this part of the country was $297,500, 8.4 percent higher than May 2013.

According to NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun, current sales activity is rebounding after the lackluster first quarter. “Home buyers are benefiting from slower price growth due to the much-needed, rising inventory levels seen since the beginning of the year,” he said. “Moreover, sales were helped by the improving job market and the temporary but slight decline in mortgage rates.” 

Across the United States there are 2.28 million existing homes available for sale. This figure represents a 5.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down slightly from 5.7 months in April. Unsold inventory is 6 percent higher than this time last year, when there were 2.15 million existing homes available for sale.

According to NAR, new home construction activity is currently insufficient in most of the U.S., and some states could face persistent housing shortages and affordability issues unless housing starts increase to match up with local job creation.

Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales — accounted for 11 percent of May sales, down from 18 percent in May 2013. A foreclosure is a legal process initiated by a lender attempting to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments. 

A short sale is a sale in which the proceeds of the sale will fall short of the balance of debts secured by liens against the property. 

Eight percent of May sales were foreclosures and 3 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in May, while short sales were discounted 11 percent.

According to NAR President Steve Brown, housing fundamentals are showing slight improvement in markets across the country. 

“Many potential buyers were left on the sidelines beginning last summer as affordability declined amidst rising home prices and interest rates,” he said. “The temporary pause in rising interest rates and more homes for sale is good news — especially for first-time home buyers.” 

The National Association of Realtors, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.