Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Existing-Home Sales Trends, 2009 – 2019

Every month NAR produces existing home sales, median sales prices, and inventory figures. In this post, I provide a perspective of the market in the last 10 years, from 2009 through 2019.  I also compare the month’s sales to the prior month and the 10-year average.

Existing-Home Sales

In 2019, existing-home sales reached the 5.34 million mark, up from 4.34 million in 2009. Over the 10-year period, sales peaked in 2017 at 5.51 million.  The South has led all regions in sales growth over this ten-year period, while the sales in the West region have not recovered compared to the level in 2009. The Northeast had the slowest sales growth over this ten-year period.

Bar chart: EHS Annual Sales 2009 through 2019

The data below shows what our current month data looks like in comparison to the last 10 December months and how that might compare to the “ten-year December average” which is an average of the data from the past 10 December months. The data also shows comparisons from ten years: December 2009 compared to 2019.

The total number of homes sold in the US for December 2019 is higher than the ten-year December average. Regionally, three of the four regions were above the ten-year December average, while the West was below. The South also led sales over this ten-year period, while the Northeast remained the region with the slowest sales pace.

Bar chart: December EHS vs December Average EHS

Comparing existing home sales from 2009 to December of 2019, three of the four regions experienced growth. The West was the only region with a decline in growth of 0.9%. The US had an increase of 23.0% while the South had an uptick in sales at 39.6%. The Midwest led all regions with a gain of 27.6%. The Northeast region had the smallest gain, of 16.9%.

Bar chart: EHS Growth Rate 2009 vs 2019

Home Prices

The Northeast leads all regions in prices from 2009 to 2013. From 2013 to 2019 the West has led all regions in prices. In 2015 prices rose above $300,000 and remained above that level until 2019, when it reached $400,000. In 2019, Northeast prices reached a high of $300,000, leading the South and the Midwest over the ten-year period.

Line graph: EHS Annual Price 2009 through 2019

Comparing December of 2009 to December 2019, the median price of a home increased in the US and all the four regions. The West led all regions with a gain of 88.6% followed by the South with 61.6%. The US had an incline in price of 60.8%, while the Midwest experienced a gain of 52.1%. The Northeast had the smallest gain in price, of 26.6%.

Bar chart: December 2009 Median Price vs December 2019 Median Price

Inventory of Homes for Sale

The decrease in inventory over the last 10 years (also equal to December figures) has dropped to low levels that are impacting home prices. Comparing inventory figures from 2009 to 2019, inventories across the US fell and are down 49.3%. Single-family inventory is down 48.1% and condominiums have fallen significantly at 57.4%. From 2010 to 2011, inventories had their biggest dip in both single-family and condominiums with condominiums having the bigger decline, of 32.2%. The US had a decline of 23.2%, while single-family fell 21.6%. Inventories nationally were down in December – they declined 9.7% for single-family, but were up 6.4% for condominiums.

Line graph: December Inventory Year Over Year 2009 through 2019

The ten-year December average national months’ supply is 4.8 while single-family is 4.8 and condominiums are 5.5 months’ supply. This past December the US had a fast pace of homes sold relative to the inventory when months’ supply was 3.0 months, which is the lowest of all ten December months. In 2010, the US had its slowest relative pace, when it would have taken 8.5 months to sell the supply of homes on the market at the prevailing sales pace. This was also the case for the condominium market, which had the biggest challenge, when it would have taken 10.3 months to sell, and single-family 8.2 months to sell, all available inventory at the prevailing sales pace.

Bar chart: December Housing Supply Over Ten Years 2009-2019

Median Family Income and Mortgage Rates

Income and mortgage rates also impact affordability. December median family incomes had continued to rise over the ten-year period and have risen to $79,970 last December. Incomes are currently up 27.9% from December 2009 to December 2019. This growth is about half of the 60.8% price appreciation during the same period, making a home purchase less affordable in terms of the required down payment although mortgage payments are affordable due to low interest rates.

Bar chart: December Median Family Incomes 2009 through 2019

December mortgage rates have been historically low over the last 10 December months. In 2009, rates had risen to 5.00%, and fell to the lowest in 2012, at 3.43%. The ten-year average mortgage rate has been 4.29 %, and the rates are down 24.4% year over year from 10 December months.

Bar chart: December Mortgage Rates 2009 through 2019