Existing home sales slowed slightly in May to 5.66 million, down 2.2% from April but up 19.2% from last May. This is the eleventh consecutive month of year-over-year increase. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, attributes this to the “ongoing effects of the home buyer tax credit,” and he anticipates the same next month. In May, 46% of sales were from first-time buyers, down slightly from the previous month’s 49% but still considered high.
Median Home Price
The median price for an existing home was $179,600 in May, up 2.8% from a year ago and 4.2% from April. Distressed homes, accounting for 31% of last month’s sales, continued skewing prices downward slightly as they are usually discounted from comparable homes. Overall, prices this past year continued to show increased stability over the previous year. Vicki Cox Golder, president of NAR states, “With distressed sales at roughly the same level as a year ago, the gain in home prices is a hopeful sign that the market is in a good position to stand on its own without further government stimulus.”
Total housing inventory declined slightly to 4.89 million in May, representing between eight and eight-and-a-half month supply of sales (if homes continue to sell at the current pace consistently and no new ones come on the market). There are about the same number of homes for sale as last year, with 1% more currently available. Although there continues to be a nice selection of available homes for buyers, the 3.4% fewer number from last month helps to further stabilize prices.
Mortgage rates fell to a new record low in June amid a drop in consumer confidence concerning the recovery. The tone of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting was notably tempered on the outlook for recovery, indicating that the economy is stronger than last year but there is still much ground to cover. Interest rates significantly below 5% may pique the interest of more investors.
Affordability remains advantageous, supported by the lowest mortgage rates in decades as well as lowered home prices. The home price-to-income ratio continues to remain well below the historical average of 25%, but stabilized home prices are drawing affordability back up toward more normal levels. The ratio now stands at 15.4%.
Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Ma