Existing-home sales continue to grow—rising 9.4% in September
For the fourth consecutive month, existing-home sales grew with September activity bringing both month-over-month and year-over-year growth. September’s total existing-home sales soared 9.4% from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million, up 20.9% from last year.
“Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season,” says Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors® (NAR’s) chief economist. “I would attribute this jump to record-low interest rates and an abundance of buyers in the marketplace, including buyers of vacation homes given the greater flexibility to work from home.”
Home sales and prices up, inventory down
Rising home sales are being met with rising home prices. The median existing-home price in September was $311,800, which is 14.8% higher than September of last year, and marks the 103rd straight month of year-over-year gains. Meanwhile, inventory continues to tighten, with September seeing a 1.3% decline from August and a 19.2% decline from last year.
“There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low,” says Yun. “To their credit, we have seen some homebuilders move to ramp up supply, but a need for even more production still exists.”
The pandemic’s effect on the market
A recent NAR study demonstrated a shift in buyer preferences since the onset of the pandemic. Homebuyers are increasingly looking for detached homes with large yards, though walkable communities with shorter commutes still remain desirable. And as many continue to work from home, sales in vacation destination areas have been increasing as well, with September bringing a 34% year-over-year gain in vacation destination counties.
“The uncertainty about when the pandemic will end coupled with the ability to work from home appears to have boosted sales in summer resort regions, including Lake Tahoe, mid-Atlantic beaches (Rehoboth Beach, Myrtle Beach), and the Jersey Shore areas,” says Yun.
Homes are being swept up at a record pace, with 71% of homes sold in September on the market for less than a month. Properties typically remained on the market for an all-time low of 21 days in September—down from 22 days in August and 32 days in September of last year.
“Home sales flourished this past month, even as we contend with an ongoing and unforgiving pandemic,” says NAR President Vince Malta. “I couldn’t be prouder of all the brokerages and Realtors® who have helped us navigate these challenging times to ensure our nation’s economy continues moving forward.”
Growth across the regions
All four major regions experienced both month-over-month and year-over-year growth in existing-home sales, while median home prices saw double-digit growth across the board.
September’s existing-home sales:
- Northeast: up 16.2% to an annual rate of 860,000—22.9% higher than last year
- Midwest: up 7.1% to an annual rate of 1,510,000—19.8% higher than last year
- South: up 8.5% to an annual rate of 2,800,000—22.3% higher than last year
- West: up 9.6% to an annual rate of 1,370,000—18.1% higher than last year
September’s median home prices:
- Northeast: $354,600—up 17.8% from last year
- Midwest: $243,100—up 14.8% from last year
- South: $266,900—up 13.0% from last year
- West: $470,800—up 17.1% from last year