All major U.S. regions except the Midwest saw an uptick in existing-home sales last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. As tight inventories continue to plague many markets, the median sales price for all housing types climbed to an all-time high of $239,700 in May — up 4.7 percent from a year earlier — as buyer demand outweighs housing supply.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, increased 1.8 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million in May. Sales are now up 4.5 percent from a year ago and are at the highest annual pace since February 2007. This is the third consecutive month for gains in existing-home sales.
"This spring's sustained period of ultra-low mortgage rates has certainly been a worthy incentive to buy a home, but the primary driver in the increase in sales is more home owners realizing the equity they've accumulated in recent years and finally deciding to trade up or downsize," says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "With first-time buyers still struggling to enter the market, repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment are making up the bulk of home purchases right now."
Yun says sales likely will maintain their current pace throughout the summer, assuming there are no further decreases in job growth that could prompt a pause among repeat buyers.
Here’s a closer look at how existing-home sales performed in May, according to NAR's latest housing report:
"Existing inventory remains subdued throughout much of the country and continues to lag even last year's deficient amount," says Yun. "While new-home construction has thankfully crept higher so far this year, there's still a glaring need for even more, to help alleviate the supply pressures that are severely limiting choices and pushing prices out of reach for plenty of prospective first-time buyers."
Here’s how existing-home sales fared across the country in May:
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