May Existing-Home Sales Recap: It’s a Repeat Buyers Market

The good news keeps on coming for the housing market this spring, especially if you’re already a homeowner looking to trade-up or downsize.

Existing-home sales grew 1.8 percent last month to their highest annualized sales pace (5.53 million) since February 2007 (5.79 million). Sales have now risen for three consecutive months despite scarce inventory and prices that continue to climb, now reaching their all-time high at a median of $239,700.

The two main observations from today’s release? This is a repeat buyer market, and what’s being listed for sale is being scooped up very quickly. First-time buyers actually declined to 30 percent of sales last month, while properties for sale went under contract at a median of 32 days, the quickest since NAR began tracking in May 2011.

During today’s press conference, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun stressed his concern that affordability continues to be a main issue for many buyers because of the tight supply conditions. New homes are simply not being built quickly enough. The result is a market of mostly repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment on their next home purchase.

Yun warned that unless supply measurably improves, prices will continue to outpace wages and pinch some prospective buyers, especially once mortgage rates begin increasing from their historically low current levels.

Below are some charts highlighting the market last month: