Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

May 2021 Existing-Home Sales Down for Fourth Straight Month as Home Prices Hit Historic High

NAR released a summary of existing-home sales data showing that housing market activity this May declined 0.9% from April 2021. May's existing-home sales reached a 5.80 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. May's sales of existing-homes inclined 44.6% from May 2020.

Line graph: U.S. Existing Home Sales, May 2020 to May 2021

The national median existing-home price for all housing types rose to $350,300 in May, up 23.6% percent from a year ago, both peak levels since 1999. Home prices have continued to rise, and this marks the 111th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Bar chart: U.S. and Regional Median Sales Price of Existing-Home Sales, May 2021 and May 2020

Regionally, all four regions showed double digit price growth from a year ago. The West had the largest gain of 24.3%, followed by the West with an incline of 22.6%. The Midwest showed an increase of 18.1%, and the Northeast had the smallest price gain of 17.1% from May 2020.

May's inventory inclined 7.0% from last month standing at 1.23 million homes for sale, indicating some slight easing in inventory conditions. However, compared with May of 2020, inventory levels are 20.6% lower. This would mark 24 straight months of year-over-year declines. It will take 2.5 months to move the current level of inventory at the current sales pace, well below the desired pace of 6 months.

Demand remains strong as home buyers are snatchings listings quickly off the MLS, and it takes approximately 17 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market. A year ago, it took 26 days.

Bar chart: Inventory, May 2020 to May 2021

From April 2021, three of the four regions had declines in sales. The Midwest had a gain of 1.6%. The West had the biggest drop in sales of 4.1%, followed by the Northeast with a decline of 1.4%. The South region had the smallest dip of 0.4%.

From a year ago, all four regions showed double-digit increases in sales. The West region had the largest gain of 61.6%, followed by the South with an increase of 47.2%. The Northeast had an increase in sales of 46.9%, followed by the Midwest with the smallest gain of 27.2%.

The South led all regions in percentage of national sales, accounting for 44.7% of the total, while the Northeast had the smallest share at 12.4%.

Bar chart: Regional Existing-Home Sales and Year-Over-Year Percent Change, May 2021 and May 2020

In May, single-family sales were down 1.0% and condominiums sales were unchanged compared to last month. Single-family home sales were up 39.2% while condominium sales were up 100% compared to a year ago, reflecting the impact of the pandemic lockdown. The median sales price of single-family homes rose to 24.4% at $356,600 from May 2020, while the median sales price of condominiums rose 21.5% at $306,000.

Line graph: Single-family vs Condo Sales Month-Over-Month Percent Change, February 2019 to May 2021
Line graph: Single-family vs. Condo Price Year-Over-Year Percent Change, January 2019 to May 2021