September's U.S. homes sell at slowest pace in three years

Home sales graph

With mortgage rates on the rise, sales of USA existing homes dropped sharply last month to the lowest rate in three years, the National Association of Realtors said Friday.

The September rate is the lowest in almost three years.

One sign of the shift is that demand for existing homes is slowing. However, this is up from 1.86 million homes available previous year.

"This is the lowest existing-home sales level since November 2015", NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said of September's seasonally-adjusted annualized reading of 5.15 million.

The Realtors surveyed consumers and found that 16 percent are unwilling to give up their mortgage rate and buy a new home. "All the while, affordable home listings remain low, continuing to spur underperforming sales activity across the country".

"There is a clear shift in the market with another month of rising inventory on a year-over-year basis, though seasonal factors are leading to a third straight month of declining inventory", Yun said. "Homes will take a bit longer to sell compared to the super-heated fast pace seen earlier this year". Homes priced at $1 million and higher saw sales drop 2 percent from a year ago. Inventory in September of a year ago totaled 1.86 million homes.

The U.S. housing market showed more signs of slowing down in September. Year over year, the median price rose 4.2%. This is also the 79th straight month of year-over-year increases. He noted that sales declined by 5.4 percent over the month in the South, which was the largest monthly decline among the regions.

The Ohio Association of Realtors says existing home sales declined by 4.7 percent from August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of more than 144 thousand. Home prices are rising at a slower rate and the supply of available houses, while low, is increasing.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 32 days in September, up from 29 days in August, but down from 34 days a year ago. Foreclosure (2%) and short (1%) sales accounted for 3% of all September sales, unchanged compared with the prior month and down from 4% in September 2017. The median price in the Northeast was $286,200, up 4.1% compared with September of previous year.

Meanwhile, the cost for would-be homeowners to finance the purchase of a home or existing homeowners to refinance their current home continues to get more expensive as mortgage rates have edged up 1 percentage point higher in 2018. The median existing-home price in September was $258,100, up 4.2 percent year over year.

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