The Mahoney Reports

 Pending Home Sales Tumble in May for Third Straight Month

 

National Association of Realtors Report on Pending Home Sales

WASHINGTON (August 22, 2018) — Existing-home sales subsided for the fourth straight month in July to their slowest pace in over two years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The West was the only major region with an increase in sales last month.

Total existing-home sales1https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in July from 5.38 million in June. With last month’s decline, sales are now 1.5 percent below a year ago and have fallen on an annual basis for five straight months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the continuous solid gains in home prices have now steadily reduced demand. “Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million,” he said. “Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out, or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market.”

“In addition to the steady climb in home prices over the past year, it’s evident that the quick run-up in mortgage rates earlier this spring has had somewhat of a cooling effect on home sales,” said Yun. “This weakening in affordability has put the most pressure on would-be first-time buyers in recent months, who continue to represent only around a third of sales despite a very healthy economy and labor market.”

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in July, which is up from 31 percent last month but down from 33 percent year ago. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20174 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34 percent.

“Despite first-time buyers struggling to achieve homeownership, Realtors® in most areas say demand is still the strongest at the entry-level segment of the market,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “For prospective first-timers looking to begin their home search this fall, it is expected that competition will remain swift. That is why it’s important to be fully prepared with a pre-approval from a lender, and to begin conversations with a Realtor® early about what you’re looking for and where.”

All-cash sales were 20 percent of transactions in July, down from 22 percent in June but up from 19 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in July (unchanged from last month and a year ago).