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Existing-Home Sales Ascend Again in June, First-time Buyers Provide Spark

Media Contact: Adam DeSanctis / 202-383-1178 / Email

WASHINGTON (July 21, 2016) — Boosted by a greater share of sales to first-time buyers not seen in nearly four years, existing-home sales maintained their upward trajectory in June and increased for the fourth consecutive month, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only the Northeast saw a decline in closings in June, and sales to investors fell to their lowest overall share since July 2009.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, climbed 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in May. After last month's gain, sales are now up 3.0 percent from June 2015 (5.41 million) and remain at their highest annual pace since February 2007 (5.79 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the impressive four month streak of sales gains through June caps off a solid first half of 2016 for the housing market. "Existing sales rose again last month as more traditional buyers and fewer investors were able to close on a home despite many competitive areas with unrelenting supply and demand imbalances," he said. "Sustained job growth as well as this year's descent in mortgage rates is undoubtedly driving the appetite for home purchases."

Cautions Yun, "Looking ahead, it's unclear if this current sales pace can further accelerate as record high stock prices, near-record low mortgage rates and solid job gains face off against a dearth of homes available for sale and lofty home prices that keep advancing."

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in June was $247,700, up 4.8 percent from June 2015 ($236,300). June's price increase marks the 52nd consecutive month of year-over-year gains and surpasses May's peak median sales price of $238,900.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of June dipped 0.9 percent to 2.12 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 5.8 percent lower than a year ago (2.25 million). Unsold inventory is at a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.7 months in May.

The share of first-time buyers was 33 percent in June, which is up from 30 percent in May and a year ago and is the highest since July 2012 (34 percent). Through the first six months of the year, first-time buyers have represented an average of 31 percent of buyers; they were 30 percent in all of 2015.

"The modest bump in June sales to first-time buyers can be attributed to mortgage rates near all-time lows and perhaps a hopeful indication that more affordable, lower-priced homes are beginning to make their way onto the market," adds Yun. "The odds of closing on a home are definitely higher right now for first-time buyers living in metro areas with tamer price growth and greater entry-level supply — particularly areas in the Midwest and parts of the South."

All-cash sales were 22 percent of transactions in June, unchanged from both May and a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 11 percent of homes in June (lowest since July 2009 at 9 percent), down from 13 percent in May and 12 percent a year ago. Sixty-four percent of investors paid cash in June.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased from 3.60 percent in May to 3.57 percent in June. Mortgage rates have now fallen four straight months and in June were the lowest since May 2013 (3.54 percent). The average commitment rate for all of 2015 was 3.85 percent.

NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida, says Realtors® are thrilled that the U.S. Senate last week unanimously voted to pass H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act. "At a time of historically low mortgage rates, this is a huge win for prospective first-time and low- to moderate-income buyers interested in purchasing a condo," he said. "Eliminating overly burdensome restrictions on condos will help more of these prospective buyers access financing and take advantage of this affordable entry point into homeownership."

Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in June, an increase from 32 days in May but unchanged from a year ago. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 156 days in June, while foreclosures sold in 49 days and non-distressed homes took 30 days. Forty-eight percent of homes sold in June were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from Realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in June were Wilson, N.C., and Jacksonville, N.C., both at a median of 22 days; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 28 days; and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., at 29 days.

Distressed sales4 — foreclosures and short sales — were 6 percent of sales in June, unchanged from May and down from 8 percent a year ago. Four percent of June sales were foreclosures (lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008) and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 11 percent below market value in June (12 percent in May), while short sales were discounted 18 percent (11 percent in May).

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales increased 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million in June from 4.88 million in May, and are now 3.1 percent higher than the 4.77 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $249,800 in June, up 5.0 percent from June 2015.

Existing condominium and co-op sales grew 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 650,000 units in June from 630,000 in May, and are now 1.6 percent above June 2015 (640,000 units). The median existing condo price was $231,600 in June, which is 3.2 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

June existing-home sales in the Northeast declined 1.3 percent to an annual rate of 760,000, but are still 5.6 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $284,800, which is 1.4 percent above June 2015.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales jumped 3.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.35 million in June, and are now 4.7 percent above June 2015. The median price in the Midwest was $199,900, up 5.7 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in June remained unchanged from May at an annual rate of 2.26 million, and are 3.2 percent above June 2015. The median price in the South was $217,400, up 5.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 1.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million in June, but are still 0.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $350,800, which is 7.2 percent above June 2015.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau's series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample — about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month — and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR's quarterly metro area price reports.

3Total inventory and month's supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month's supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR's Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.

NOTE: NAR's Pending Home Sales Index for June will be released July 27, and Existing-Home Sales for July will be released August 24; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.