Existing-Home Sales Lose Momentum in July

August 24, 2016

Existing-home sales lost momentum in July because of stubbornly low inventory on the market across the country, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Last month, existing-home sales posted their first year-over-year drop since November 2015.

Total existing-home sales, which includes completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, dropped 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in July. Sales are 1.6 percent below a year ago.

"Severely restrained inventory, and the tightening grip it's putting on affordability, is the primary culprit for the considerable sales slump throughout much of the country last month," says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "REALTORS® are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows."

\Here's a closer look at the data from July:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $244,100, up 5.3 percent from a year ago.
  • All-cash sales: Comprising 21 percent of transactions in July, all-cash sales were down from 23 percent a year ago. It is the lowest share of cash sales since November 2009 (when it was 19 percent). Individual investors account for the bulk of cash sales and purchased 11 percent of homes in July, down from 13 percent a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales made up 5 percent of sales, down from 7 percent a year ago. It is the lowest share since NAR began tracking distressed sales in October 2008. Broken out, 4 percent of sales last month were foreclosures, while 1 percent were short sales. Foreclosures, on average, sold for a discount of 18 percent below market value; short sales were discounted an average of 16 percent.
  • Days on market: Forty-seven percent of sold homes were on the market for less than a month. Properties typically stayed on the market for 36 days in July, down from 42 days a year ago. Short sales were on the market the longest, at a median of 95 days, while foreclosures sold in 54 days. Non-distressed homes averaged 34 days on the market.
  • Inventory levels: Total housing inventory by the end of the month inched up by 0.9 percent to 2.13 million existing homes for sale. Still, that is 5.8 percent lower than a year ago. Inventories have declined year-over-year for the last 14 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace.

"Although home sales are still expected to finish the year at their strongest pace since the downturn, thanks to a very strong spring, the housing market is undershooting its full potential because of inadequate existing inventory combined with new-home construction failing to catch up with underlying demand," Yun says. "As a result, sales in all regions are now flat or below a year ago, and price growth isn't slowing to a healthier and sustainable pace."

Source: National Association of REALTORS®