Breaking a four-month streak of increases, existing U.S. home sales reversed course in August, according to the National Association of Realtors, even as mortgage interest rates and total inventory fell.
Sales of existing homes, including single family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops, fell 1.8 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.05 million, down from July’s 5.14 million rate. Compared with August 2013, sales are down 5.3 percent from the 5.33 million level.
“There was a marked decline in all-cash sales from investors,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. “On the positive side, first-time buyers have a better chance of purchasing a home now that bidding wars are receding and supply constraints have significantly eased in many parts of the country.”
Housing inventory dropped 1.7 percent to 2.31 million existing homes for sale, a 5.5-month supply at the current sales rate. And although inventory declined in August, the number of homes for sale was still up 4.5 percent from last year where there were only2.21 million available properties.
Home prices fell for the second month in a row, declining to a median price of $219,800, down from July’s $221,600, but the median is 4.8 percent above the year before. August is the 30th straight month of year-over-year price increases.
All-cash sales (typically made by investors) fell to 23 percent of all sales in August, down from 29 percent in July and falling to the lowest percentage since December 2009.
Meanwhile, Freddie Mac reported that the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage decreased to 4.12 percent from 4.13 percent in July. Rates have jumped slightly since August, but probably not enough to have a significant effect on September home sales.