The National Association of Realtors reported This Week in Real Estate that the run of 6 consecutive months of decline in existing-home sales ended in October. In addition, housing starts in October increased 1.5 percent over September. Below are a few highlights from the third week of November that influence our business:
Single-Family Starts Stable in October as Caution Grows
Total housing starts posted a 1.5 percent increase in October (1.23 million units) compared to a revised September estimate of 1.21 million units. However, total starts are 2.9 percent lower than October 2017. Despite the recent market softness, 2018 is still shaping up to be the best year since the recession. Total housing starts are 5.6 percent higher for 2018 on a year-to-date basis, according to the joint data release from the Census Bureau and HUD. The pace of single-family starts posted a slight monthly decline in October, decreasing 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 865,000. September and August single-family starts were revised up totaling to an additional 21,000 units. The weaker conditions for single-family construction are likely to continue, as noted by the November decline of the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, by eight points, now registering a score of 60. On a year-to-date basis, single-family starts are 5.5 percent higher as of October relative to the first ten months of 2017. Single-family permits, a useful indicator of future construction activity, were slightly lower at 0.6 percent in October and have registered a 0.6 percent loss thus far in 2018 compared to last year. Regional data show – on a year-to-date basis positive conditions across the West (+15.2 percent), South (+3.9 percent), and the Northeast (+3.2 percent). However, single-family construction is down 2.5 percent for the year in the Midwest.
Existing-Home Sales Increase for the First Time in Six Months
Existing-home sales increased in October after six straight months of decreases, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Three of four major U.S. regions saw gains in sales activity last month. Total existing-home sales increased 1.4 percent from September to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.22 million in October. Sales are now down 5.1 percent from a year ago (5.5 million in October 2017). Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says increasing housing inventory has brought more buyers to the market. “After six consecutive months of decline, buyers are finally stepping back into the housing market,” he said. “Gains in the Northeast, South and West – a reversal from last month’s steep decline or plateau in all regions – helped overall sales activity rise for the first time since March 2018.” The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in October was $255,400, up 3.8 percent from October 2017 ($246,000). October’s price increase marks the 80th straight month of year-over-year gains. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.4 last month and up from 3.9 months a year ago.
The 10 Best Days of the Year to Buy a Home
On Tuesday ATTOM Data Solutions released an analysis of the best days of the year to buy a home, which shows that only 10 days of the year offer discounts below estimated market value — seven in December, and one each in October, November and February. According to the analysis, buyers willing to close on a home purchase the day after Christmas realize the biggest discounts below full market of any day in the year. This analysis of more than 18 million single family home and condo sales over the past five years is evidence of the hot sellers’ market of the past five years. “People closing on a home purchase December 26 were submitting offers around Thanksgiving and starting their home search around Halloween — likely not a common path to home purchase for most buyers and exactly why it’s the best time to buy,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions. “Buyers and investors willing to start their home search right about when stores are setting up Christmas decorations will face less competition and likely be dealing with more motivated sellers, giving them the upper hand in price negotiations.”