Existing-home sales rose strongly in May as did new home sales, which rose in May by greatest monthly increase in 22 years. Yet sales still trailed the torrid sales pace of a year ago.
Total existing-home sales rose 4.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in May from an upwardly-revised 4.66 million in April, but remain 5.0 percent below the 5.15 million-unit level in May 2013. The 4.9 percent month-over-month gain in May was the highest monthly rise since August 2011 (5.5 percent), according to the National Association of Realtors.
Sales of new homes increased 18.6 percent, the biggest one-month gain since January 1992, to a 504,000 annualized pace, according to the Commerce Department. The May results exceeded all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of 74 economists and was the strongest since May 2008.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said current sales activity is rebounding after the lackluster first quarter. “Home buyers are benefiting from slower price growth due to the much-needed, rising inventory levels seen since the beginning of the year,” he said. “Moreover, sales were helped by the improving job market and the temporary but slight decline in mortgage rates.”
“Housing is beginning to revive,” said Stephanie Karol, an economist at IHS Global Insight, the top forecaster of new home sales in the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “It’s a step in the right direction. The job market is helping, and there was an expansion of supply the past couple of months.”
Total housing inventory at the end of May climbed 2.2 percent to 2.28 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down slightly from 5.7 months in April. Unsold inventory is 6.0 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.15 million existing homes available for sale.
In Florida, inventories and prices rose in May. Florida’s housing market reported more new listings, increased median prices and an uptick in inventory in May, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 23,013 last month, up 3.6 percent over the May 2013 figure.
“Inventory levels continue to improve in Florida, and the months’ supply of homes for sale remains stable – all good signs for the housing market,” said 2014 Florida Realtors® President Sherri Meadows, CEO and team leader, Keller Williams, with market centers in Gainesville, Ocala and The Villages. “Right now, the market offers a great opportunity for sellers, who are seeing nearly 93 percent of their asking price at the closing table. And mortgage rates, though rising, remain historically low – giving consumers more buying power.”
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in April 2014 was $201,100, up 4.7 percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $205,500. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in April was $449,360; in Massachusetts, it was $320,000; in Maryland, it was $256,608; and in New York, it was $215,000.
Looking at Florida’s townhome-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 10,558 last month, down 7.0 percent compared to May 2013. The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales last month compared to the previous year: Short sales for condo-townhome properties declined 61.2 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 54.3 percent. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.