September Marked 2014 High in Home Sales

Existing-home sales bounced back in September, surging to the highest annual pace of the year, according to the latest report from the National Association of REALTORS®. All regions except for the Midwest reported gains in sales last month.

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“Low interest rates and price gains holding steady led to September’s healthy increase, even with investor activity remaining on par with last month’s marked decline,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Traditional buyers are entering a less competitive market with fewer investors searching for available homes, but may also face a slight decline of choices due to the fact that inventory generally falls heading into winter.” 

Existing-home sales rose 2.4 percent in September, reaching an annual rate of 5.17 million. Sales are at the highest pace of 2014 but remain 1.7 percent below the 5.26 million level from last September, NAR reports.  

Snapshot of Housing Indicators for September

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price was $209,700 in September, 5.6 percent higher than a year ago. It is the 31st consecutive month for year-over-year price gains. 
  • Days on market: Homes stayed on the market longer in September — 56 days, compared with 53 days in August. Short sales remained on the market for a median 116 days in September, while foreclosures sold in 59 days. About 35 percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month, according to NAR. 
  • Inventory: Total housing inventory dropped 1.3 percent to 2.30 million existing-homes for-sale, representing a 5.3-month supply at the current sales pace. Unsold inventory is 6 percent higher than a year ago.
  • All-cash sales: Sales involving all cash made up 24 percent of transactions in September, down from 33 percent compared to a year prior. 
  • Distressed homes: Foreclosures and short sales rose slightly in September to 10 percent, from 8 percent in August. Distressed sales, however, are down from 14 percent a year ago. Foreclosures and short sales in September sold for an average discount of 14 percent below market value.

By the Region

Here’s an overview of how existing-home sales performed across the country in September: 

  • Northeast: Existing-home sales rose 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 680,000, but were 1.4 percent below sales levels from a year ago. Median price: $249,800 (up 4.8 percent from a year ago)
  • Midwest: Existing-home sales fell 5.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.17 million, and remain 4.9 percent below September 2013 levels. Median price: $165,100 (up 4.9 percent from a year ago)
  • South: Existing-home sales rose 5 percent to an annual rate of 2.12 million, and are 1.4 percent higher than September 2013. Median price: $180,900 (up 5.1 percent from a year ago)
  • West: Existing-home sales surged 7.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million, remaining 4 percent below levels from a year ago. Median price: $294