Sales of previously owned homes rose in October for the second straight month and are now above year-over-year levels for the first time in a year

Figures released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show total existing-home sales -- which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.5% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million.

Sales are now at their highest annual pace since September 2013 and are above year-over-year levels for the first time since last October.

“Sales activity in October reached its highest annual pace of the year as buyers continue to be encouraged by interest rates at lows not seen since last summer, improving levels of inventory and stabilizing price growth,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Furthermore, the job market has shown continued strength in the past six months. This bodes well for solid demand to close out the year and the likelihood of additional months of year-over-year sales increases.”

Prices and inventories

The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $208,300, up 5.5% from a year ago -- marking the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. The median is the point at which half the homes were priced higher and half lower.

Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 2.6% to 2.22 million existing homes available for sale, representing a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace -- the lowest since March. Unsold inventory is now 5.2% higher than a year ago, when there were 2.11 million existing homes available for sale.

“The growth in housing supply this year will likely prevent the drastic sales slowdown and coinciding spike in home prices we saw last winter due to low inventory,” said Yun. “However, more housing starts are needed to increase supply, meet current demand and keep price growth in check.”

Sales regionally

  • Existing-home sales in the Northeast climbed 2.9% last month to an annual rate of 710,000, and are 4.4% above a year ago. The median price was $246,900 -- 1.2% above a year ago.
  • In the Midwest, jumped 5.1% to an annual level of 1.24 million, and are 2.5% higher than October 2013. The median price in the Midwest surged 6.8% from a year ago to $164,100.
  • Sales of previously-owned homes in the South increased 2.8% to an annual rate of 2.17 million, and are now 5.3% above their year-ago level. The median price was $178,000 -- up 5.1% from a year ago.
  • In the West, though, sales fell 5.0% to an annual rate of 1.14 million, and remain 3.4% below a year ago. The median price rose 5.0% year-over-year -- to $296,800.
  • per The Daily Consumer