Sales in US reach highest level for a decade and prices reach all time high

Taylor Scott International News

Existing home sales in the United States increased in May to their highest pace in almost a decade and median sales prices reached an all-time high. While the uptick in demand this spring amidst lagging supply levels pushed the median sales price to an all-time high, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions except for the Midwest saw strong sales increases last month. Total existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops, were up by 1.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million in May from a downwardly revised 5.43 million in April. The data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that with last month's gain, sales are now up 4.5% from May 2015 and are at their highest annual pace since February 2007. ‘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,’ said Lawrence Yun, NAR 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,’ he pointed out. ‘Barring further deceleration in job growth that could ultimately temper demand from these repeat buyers, sales have the potential to mostly maintain their current pace through the summer,’ he added. Surpassing the peak median sales price set last June of $236,300) the median existing home price for all housing types in May was $239,700, up 4.7% from May 2015 and the 51st consecutive month of year on year gains. The data also shows that total housing inventory at the end of May rose 1.4% to 2.15 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 5.7% lower than a year ago while unsold inventory is at a 4.7 month supply at the current sales pace, which is unchanged from April. ‘Existing inventory remains subdued throughout much of the country and continues to lag even last year's deficient amount. 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,’ said Yun. The share of first time buyers was 30% in May, down from 32% both in April and a year ago. First time buyers in all of 2015 also represented an average of 30%. Properties typically stayed on the market for 32 days in May compared to 39 days in April, which is below a year ago when it was 40 days and the shortest time since NAR began tracking in May 2011. Short sales were on the market the longest… Taylor Scott International

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