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Cash Finances Smallest Share of New Home Sales Since 2010 | Katonah Real Estate | Buying Bedford Real Estate
– New U.S. single-family home sales unexpectedly rose in September, pointing to sustained demand for housing even as data for August was revised sharply down.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday new home sales increased 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000 units last month, pulling them close to a nine-year high touched in July.
August’s sales pace was revised down to 575,000 units from the previously reported 609,000 units.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast single-family home sales, which account for about 9.8 percent of overall home sales, falling to a rate of 600,000 units last month.
New home sales, which are derived from building permits, are volatile on a month-to-month basis and subject to large revisions.
Sales increased 29.8 percent from a year ago. They rose in the third quarter compared to the April-June period, indicating strong demand for housing.
Residential construction, however, likely remained a drag on gross domestic product in the third quarter.
Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), increased 3.2% in September and were up 0.6% from the same month a year ago, as first-time buyers seized a 34% share of sales. Total existing home sales in September increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.47 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, up from a downwardly adjusted 5.30 million units in August.
September existing sales increased in all four regions, ranging from 5.7% in the Northeast to 0.9% in the South. Sales increased by 5.0% in the West in September, despite a 5.3% decrease in the August PHSI for that region. Year-over-year, September sales increased by 2.3% in the Midwest and 1.6% in the West, while falling 0.9% in the South. The Northeast remained unchanged year-over-year for September.
Total housing inventory increased by 1.5% in September, but remains 6.8% lower than its level a year ago. At the current sales rate, the September unsold inventory represents a 4.5-month supply, compared to a 4.6-month supply in August.
The August all-cash sales share was 21%, down from 22% in August and 24% during the same month a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 14% share in September, up from 13% in August and a year ago. The September first-time home buyer share of 34% was up from 31% in August, and 29% from the same month a year ago. Distressed sales, comprised of foreclosures and short sales, fell to 4%, the lowest rate since NAR launched that series in 2008.
The September median sales price of $234,200 was 5.6% above the same month a year ago, and represents the 55th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median condominium/co-op price of $222,100 in September was up 6.1% from the same month a year ago.
The US housing market is supply constrained, sending home prices in major US metros back to levels last seen in the winter of 2007.
Research out of JP Morgan published Thursday indicates that this situation appears unlikely to resolve itself anytime soon.
“Nationwide house price indexes have been pushing steadily higher—real house prices are now 25% above their 2012 trough and at the highest levels on record outside the pre-crisis boom years,” JP Morgan’s Jesse Edgerton writes.
“One might wonder if these high prices reflect growing demand that could soon elicit a wave of construction that would prove our forecasts wrong. We find, however, that high prices are concentrated in markets where supply is constrained by geography or regulation, suggesting there may be little room for additional construction.” (Emphasis added.)
In short, areas seeing home prices rise fastest — think San Francisco, San Jose, and Denver — are not in a position to meet the demand for housing implied by the rise in prices.
The problem here is two-fold.
As the chart below shows, high home prices haven’t influenced the aggressiveness with which homebuilders have added to the housing stock over time. This indicates the supply side of the market is content to accept elevated prices even if the volume of homes built and sold is below what the demand side alone might dictate.
Additionally, Edgerton’s work shows that markets equipped with both high home prices and an ability to meet the demand implied by these prices literally do not exist.
“Metro areas in the upper right quadrant of the chart would be the best candidates for a demand-driven construction boom,” Edgerton writes. “Unfortunately, sharp-eyed readers will note that there are no dots in the upper-right portion of the figure.”
Edgerton adds, “Thus, it is unclear how much we can expect high prices to drive construction in the coming years, as the data show that high prices are concentrated in areas where supply may be limited in its ability to respond to demand.”