Steel Markets

Existing Home Sales Drop for Second Month

Written by Sandy Williams

Existing home sales declined for the second month in a row, dipping 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.43 million in May, said the National Association of Realtors. Compared to a year ago, sales are down 3.0 percent.

The sales pace is much weaker than it should be considering the solid economy and job market, said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

“Closings were down in a majority of the country last month and declined on an annual basis in each major region,” said Yun. “Incredibly low supply continues to be the primary impediment to more sales, but there’s no question the combination of higher prices and mortgage rates are pinching the budgets of prospective buyers, and ultimately keeping some from reaching the market.”

Housing inventory was slightly better at the end of May, climbing 2.8 percent to 1.85 million homes available, but was still 6.1 percent below the level of May 2017.

Median existing prices for all types of housing in May were at an all-time high of $264,800, reported NAR, and up 4.9 percent from a year ago. Home prices have now increased for 75 consecutive months.

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season – as evidenced again by last month’s weak reading – was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand,” added Yun. “That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

Single-family home sales fell 0.6 percent in May, while existing condo and co-op sales increased 1.6 percent. Median priced single-family homes and condos were $267,500 and $244,100, respectively.

Regional breakdown of sales and price from April:

• Northeast increased 4.6 percent to annual rate of 680,000; median price $275,900.

• Midwest declined 2.3 percent to annual rate of 1.26 million; median price $209,900.

• South declined 0.4 percent to annual rate of 2.32 million; median price $233,100.

• West declined 0.8 percent to annual rate of 1.17 million; median price $395,800.

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