Existing-home sales rebounded strongly in September and were propelled by sales from first-time buyers reaching a 34 percent share, which is a high not seen in over four years, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the two-month slump in existing sales reversed course convincingly in September. "The home search over the past several months for a lot of prospective buyers, and especially for first-time buyers, took longer than usual because of the competition for the minimal amount of homes for sale," he said. "Most families and move-up buyers look to close before the new school year starts. Their diminishing presence from the market towards the end of summer created more opportunities for aspiring first-time homeowners to buy last month."
Yun added, "Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won't be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand."
September existing-home sales in the Northeast leapt 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 740,000, which is unchanged from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $261,600, which is 2.1 percent above September 2015.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales grew 3.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.32 million in September, and are now 2.3 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $184,500, up 5.9 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South in September ticked up 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.16 million, but are still 0.9 percent below September 2015. The median price in the South was $204,000, up 6.6 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West jumped 5.0 percent to an annual rate of 1.25 million in September, and are now 1.6 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the West was $345,400, up 8.1 percent from September 2015.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage inched up in September for the first time since March, rising to 3.46 percent from 3.44 percent in August. The average commitment rate for all of 2015 was 3.85 percent.