Existing Home Sales May 2019 — Trying to See Through the Fog Using Hazy Data

While existing home sales rose 2.5 percent from April to May 2019 on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis (SAAR), they were down 1.1 percent when compared to  May 2018 according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).   Sales totaled 5.34 million in May (SAAR) versus 5.40 million a year ago.  Total sales (raw, not seasonally adjusted) in May 2019 hit 540,000, up 0.93 percent compared to May 2018.   This was the first month in 2019 posting an increase in sales compared to the same month one-year ago.  The table below shows sales year-to-date 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

The following table shows monthly sales comparing 2017, 2018 and 2019.  Note the seasonality in sales with the trough occurring in January and February annually with the peak in June.

The next graph shows existing home sales from two perspectives.   The black line is the number of sales on a SAAR, while the blue green bars show total sales (raw, unadjusted) for the trailing twelve months (TTM).

The median sales price in May 2019 was $277,700, up 4.8 percent versus a year ago, making the 87th consecutive month posting a year-over-year increase.  The graph shows sales on a TTM basis since 2014 and the median monthly sales price.  Sales were down 3.9 percent as of May on TTM basis while price was up 4.0 percent based on the 12-month moving average.

Other metrics and insights from the May 2019 NAR release included:

  • 53 percent of the sales closed in May were on the market less than one month, with the typical property lasting 26 days from the time of listing to  having a signed purchase contract, unchanged from a year ago
  • First-time homebuyers purchased three-out-of-every 10 sales in May (32 percent) similar to the 31 percent level a year ago
  • All-cash sales made up one-in-five closings (19 percent) in May, down slightly from 21 percent a year ago
  • Investors acquired 13 percent of all home sales in May versus 14 percent a year ago
  • Distressed sales made up just 2 percent of May’s closings, down from 3 percent a year ago
  • Million dollar and up homes made up 3.4 percent of all sales in May 2019, up from 3.1 percent a year ago
  • The number of homes available for sale increased to 1.92 million from 1.87 million a year ago

To read the entire NAR release click https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-ascend-2-5-in-may

Aiding homebuyers are rising wages, a record number of jobs, increased inventory of for-sale properties and lower interest rates.   The primary impediment today, however, is price – at least in my opinion.  Assuming a preliminary estimated median household income of $63,668 in 2018, incomes are up 28.8 percent from $49,445 in 2010.  In that same time period, median home price (based on a 12-month average) jumped 49.2 percent from $172,400 to $261,400.  Affordability is the primary issue impacting homebuyers today.

My expectation is for sales to be down 2 percent in 2019 compared to a year ago, with prices rising 3.2 to 3.6 percent.

Ted

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