Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Pace in Nine Years

Existing home sales rose 1.8% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million, the highest pace in nine years according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The May reading follows April’s ­­downwardly revised rate of 5.43 million. Annual sales of existing homes were mixed across regions, rising 4.1% in the Northeast, 4.6% in the South and 5.4% in the West, but falling 6.5% in the Midwest.

“This spring’s sustained period of ultra-low mortgage rates has certainly been a worthy incentive to buy a home, but the primary driver in the increase in sales is more homeowners realizing the equity they’ve accumulated in recent years and finally deciding to trade-up or downsize,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “With first-time home buyers still struggling to enter the market, repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment are making up the bulk of home purchases right now.”

The median existing-home price moved up to $239,700, a 4.7% increase from May 2015.

Distressed sales slipped 1 point to 6% of sales in May. Five percent of May sales were foreclosures, while 1% were short sales. On average, foreclosures and short sales sold for discounts of 12% and 11% respectively.

Read the NAR release.