US existing-home sales rose 0.2% in May to seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.30 million; inventory of unsold homes increased 3.8% to 1.08 million, equal to 3.0 months of the monthly sales pace: NAR

Sample article from our Housing & Economy

WASHINGTON , June 23, 2023 (press release) –

Key Highlights

  • Existing-home sales recorded a minor gain of 0.2% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.30 million. Sales retreated 20.4% from one year ago.
  • The inventory of unsold existing homes grew 3.8% from the previous month to 1.08 million at the end of May, or the equivalent of 3.0 months' supply at the current monthly sales pace.
  • NAR leaders say a temporary capital gains tax reduction on a sale of investment property can lead to a boost in housing inventory.

​​​​​​​Existing-home sales marginally increased in May, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Sales were mixed among the four major U.S. regions, with the South and West posting improvements and the Northeast and Midwest experiencing pullbacks. All four regions experienced year-over-year sales declines.

Total existing-home sales1 – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 0.2% from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.30 million in May. Year-over-year, sales dropped 20.4% (down from 5.40 million in May 2022).

"Mortgage rates heavily influence the direction of home sales," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "Relatively steady rates have led to several consecutive months of consistent home sales."

Total housing inventory2 registered at the end of May was 1.08 million units, up 3.8% from April but down 6.1% from one year ago (1.15 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 2.9 months in April and 2.6 months in May 2022.

"Available inventory strongly impacts home sales, too," Yun added. "Newly constructed homes are selling at a pace reminiscent of pre-pandemic times because of abundant inventory in that sector. However, existing-home sales activity is down sizably due to the current supply being roughly half the level of 2019."

The median existing-home price3 for all housing types in May was $396,100, a decline of 3.1% from May 2022 ($408,600). Prices grew in the Northeast and Midwest but fell in the South and West.

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in May, down from 22 days in April but up from 16 days in May 2022. Seventy-four percent of homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers were responsible for 28% of sales in May, down from 29% in April but up from 27% in May 2022. NAR's 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in November 20224 – found that the annual share of first-time buyers was 26%, the lowest since NAR began tracking the data.

All-cash sales accounted for 25% of transactions in May, down from 28% in April and identical to one year ago.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 15% of homes in May, down from 17% in April and 16% the previous year.

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 2% of sales in May, virtually unchanged from last month and the prior year.

According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage(link is external) averaged 6.69% as of June 15. That's down from 6.71% the previous week but up from 5.78% one year ago.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales dipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.85 million in May, down 0.3% from 3.86 million in April and 20.0% from the previous year. The median existing single-family home price was $401,100 in May, down 3.4% from May 2022.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 450,000 units in May, up 4.7% from April but down 23.7% from one year ago. The median existing condo price was $353,000 in May, nearly identical to the prior year ($353,100).

"A temporary capital gains tax reduction on a sale of investment property can lead to a boost in housing inventory, home sales and the economy," said NAR President Kenny Parcell, a REALTOR® from Spanish Fork, Utah, and broker-owner of Equity Real Estate Utah. "Policymakers need to seriously consider the measure."

Regional Breakdown
Existing-home sales in the Northeast declined 2.0% from April to an annual rate of 500,000 in May, down 25.4% from May 2022. The median price in the Northeast was $439,000, up 2.5% from one year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales faded 2.9% from one month ago to an annual rate of 990,000 in May, decreasing 20.8% from the previous year. The median price in the Midwest was $298,000, up 1.1% from May 2022.

Existing-home sales in the South expanded 1.5% from April to an annual rate of 2.02 million in May, sliding 16.5% from the prior year. The median price in the South was $361,400, down 2.7% from May 2022.

In the West, existing-home sales rose 2.6% from the previous month to an annual rate of 790,000 in May, down 25.5% from one year ago. The median price in the West was $596,500, down 5.7% from May 2022.

About NAR
The National Association of REALTORS® is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

# # #

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

NOTE: NAR's Pending Home Sales Index for May is scheduled for release on June 29, and Existing-Home Sales for June will be released on July 20. Release times are 10 a.m. Eastern.

1 Existing-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 benchmarks 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% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% 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.

2 Total 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% of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

3 The 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.

4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR's REALTORS® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. The annual study only represents primary residence purchases, and does not include investor and vacation home buyers. Results include both new and existing homes.

5 Distressed 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.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

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