Housing markets show continued strength as the National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of existing homes reached their second highest level since February 2007. Sales of pre-owned homes increased by 4.70 percent and reached 5.55 million sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against analyst expectations of 5.34 million sales and August’s reading of 5.30 million sales of previously owned homes.
August’s reading for existing home sales was revised downward from 5.31 million sales. Economists said that August’s lower than expected sales of existing homes may have been influenced by volatility in financial markets and concerns over mortgage rates may have kept would-be home buyers on the sidelines, but September’s reading showed that August’s dismal readings were an aberration rather than a trend.
Higher Home Sales Driven by Low Mortgage Rates
Low mortgage rates are making homes more affordable, a fact that’s reflected by current inventories of available homes. At the current sales pace, there is a 4.8 month supply of available homes as compared to September 2014’s reading of a 5.40 month supply of available homes.
In addition to average mortgage rates hovering below four percent, industry advocates s cited stronger job markets and also indicated that a slight easing of mortgage credit standards are driving home sales. Increased demand for homes is causing home prices to rise. The national average price of a home rose to $221,900, which was 6.10 percent higher than for September 2014.
Housing Recovery: 2015 Could Show Best Results Since 2007
Lawrence Yun Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that although some economists expect home sales to cool down before the end of 2015, it’s possible that 2015 will end with the best home sales figures since 2007. Mr. Yun said characterized the housing recovery as “a slow steady process” and said “This year, it’s finally coming out.”
On the other hand, some analysts are skeptical about how housing markets can maintain their momentum into 2016. First-time buyers are losing market share in home sales, with their participation rate decreasing from 32 percent in August to 29 percent in September. First-time buyers play an integral role in housing markets, as their purchase of starter homes allows first-time homeowners to buy larger homes. First-time buyers also represent new demand for homes, which is essential to expanding housing markets.