Steel Markets

Existing Home Sales Climb in May

Written by Sandy Williams

Existing home sales climbed 1.1 percent in May, reports the National Association of Realtors. Sales rebounded to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.62 million from a downwardly revised 5.56 million in April. May sales are 2.7 percent higher than a year ago and at the third highest level for the past year.

Low inventory pushed median sales price up 5.8 percent to $252,800. Prices have increased for 63 straight months with the increase in May setting a new peak median sales price. Sellers can be happy with shorter selling times: 27 days on the market compared to 29 days in April and 32 days a year ago.

“The job market in most of the country is healthy and the recent downward trend in mortgage rates continues to keep buyer interest at a robust level,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets is pushing prices higher.”

Housing inventory rose 2.1 percent to 1.96 million existing homes, but was still down 8.4 percent from a year ago. At the current sales pace, inventory is at a 4.2-month supply, a decline from 4.7 months in May 2016.

“Home prices keep chugging along at a pace that is not sustainable in the long run,” added Yun. “Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it’s clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions.”

Sales of single-family homes in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million, 1.0 percent higher than April and 2.7 percent above a year ago. Condominium and co-op sales jumped 1.6 percent in May and 3.2 percent from a year ago. Median price for a single-family home increased 6 percent year-over-year to $254,600. The median condo price grew 4.8 percent to $238,700.

Home sales were strongest in the Northeast, jumping 6.8 percent from April, followed by the West and South with increases of 3.4 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Existing home sales in the Midwest fell 5.9 percent from April to May.

Median home price increased in all regions on a year-over-year basis: Northeast 4.7 percent, Midwest 7.3 percent, South 5.3 percent, and West 6.9 percent.

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