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REALTORS® Reported Slower Homebuying in Many States in August 2018

Based on REALTORS® who reported about their transactions in August 2018, home buying activity slowed compared to the level of activity one year ago, according to the  August 2018 REALTORS® Confidence Index SurveyThe REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index[1] slid to 57 in August 2018 from 69 one year ago. To be clear, homebuying activity was still broadly “stronger” than “weaker” (index is above 50), but the lower value of the index indicates a smaller fraction of respondents reported “stronger” conditions in August 2018 compared to the fraction who reported “stronger” conditions in August 2017.

The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index remains below 50, which means more respondents reported “weaker” than “stronger” seller traffic in August 2018 compared to the level of selling activity one year ago. Lack of supply remains the major obstacle to homebuying and the factor driving up prices and eroding home affordability.

 

The REALTOR® Buyer Traffic Index pertaining to buyer traffic conditions in June-August 2018 (relative to one year ago) declined in 38 states compared to values of the index pertaining to buyer conditions in June-August 2017, with large declines in California (-15), Washington

(-23), North Dakota (-27), Louisiana (-17), Tennessee (-14), and New Jersey (-11) and Vermont (-11).

In major states such as California, Washington, Texas, Florida, New York and Massachusetts, homebuying has moved slightly downwards or remained flat during January-August 2018 compared to full year 2017, based on the average of the monthly REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index (see charts and the data visualization tool below). Because employment is still rising strongly, the slowdown in homebuying may likely be because of higher home prices and higher mortgage rates. In August 2018, the typical monthly mortgage payment was $95 more compared to the payment in August 2017.[2]  The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index indicates that supply has been modestly increasing, although supply is still tight in many areas (indices below 50).

 

 

 

Use the data visualization tool below to view how buyer and seller traffic over time across states.

BuyerTrafficIndex_DB1

 


 

About the Realtors® Confidence Index Survey

The RCI Survey gathers information from REALTORS® about local market conditions based on their client interactions and the characteristics of their most recent sales for the month. The August 2018 survey was sent to 50,000 REALTORS® who were selected from NAR’s1.3 million members through simple random sampling and to 8,386 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses. There were 4,639 respondents to the online survey which ran from September 1-11, 2018. NAR weights the responses by a factor that aligns the sample distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership. The REALTORS® Confidence Index is provided by NAR solely for use as a reference. Resale of any part of this data is prohibited without NAR’s prior written consent. For questions on this report or to purchase the RCI series, please email: Data@realtors.org

[1] In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, respondents are asked “Compared to the same month last year, how would you rate the past month’s traffic in neighborhood(s) or area(s) where you make most of your sales?” Respondents rate buyer traffic as “Stronger” (100), “Stable” (50), or “Weaker” (0) and the responses are compiled into a diffusion index. An index greater (lower) than 50 means more (fewer) respondents reported “stronger” than “weaker” conditions in the reference month compared to the conditions in the same month last year. A higher value of the index in any reference month compared to the value in another reference month means a larger fraction of respondents reported “stronger” conditions in the former period than the fraction of respondents who reported “stronger” in the latter period.   

 

[2] Based on a 10 percent down payment on a home priced at $264,800 in August 2018 with 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.88 percent and a home priced at $251,800 in August 2017 with a 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.25 percent.

August 2018 Existing-Home Sales

  • NAR released a summary of existing-home sales data showing that housing market activity this August was steady yet flat from last month, and dropped 1.5 percent from last year. August’s existing-home sales maintained a 5.34 million seasonally adjusted annual rate.
  • The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $264,800 in August, up 4.6 percent from a year ago. This marks the 78th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
  • Regionally, all four regions showed growth in prices from a year ago, with the West having the biggest advance of 4.8 percent. The Midwest had a gain of 3.4 percent followed by the South with an increase of 3.2 percent. The Northeast had the smallest gain of 2.6 percent from August 2017.

  • August’s inventory figures are also flat from last month to 1.92 million homes for sale. Compared with August of 2017, there was a 2.7 percent increase in inventory levels. It will take 4.3 months to move the current level of inventory at the current sales pace. It takes approximately 29 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market, down from 30 days a year ago.

  • From July 2018, two of the four regions experienced declines in sales. The West had the biggest decline of 5.9 percent followed by the South with a dip in sales of 0.4 percent. The Northeast had the largest gain of 7.6 percent followed by the Midwest that had an incline in sales of 2.4 percent.
  • Three of the four regions showed declines in sales from a year ago. The West had the biggest drop in sales of 7.4 percent. The Northeast had a decline of 2.7 percent followed by the Midwest with a decline of 0.8 percent. The South had the only incline in sales of 1.8 percent. The South led all regions in percentage of national sales, accounting for 41.8 percent of the total, while the Northeast had the smallest share at 13.3 percent.

  • In August, single-family and condominiums sales were unchanged compared to last month. Single-family home sales fell 1.0 percent and condominium sales were down 4.8 compared to a year ago. Both single-family and condominiums had an increase in price with single-family up 4.9 percent at $267,300 and condominiums up 2.0 percent at $244,500 from August 2017.

REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey: August 2018 Highlights

The REALTORS® Confidence Index (RCI) [1] survey gathers monthly information from REALTORS® about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions.[2] This report presents key results about market transactions from August 2018. View and download the full report here.

Market Conditions and Expectations

  • The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 57 (64 in August 2017).[3]
  • The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index registered at 44 (47 in August 2017).
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index—SixMonth Outlook Current Conditions registered at 58 for detached single-family, 48 for townhome, and 46 for condominium properties. An index above 50 indicates market conditions are expected to improve.
  • Properties were typically on the market for 29 days (30 days in August 2017).
  • Eighty-five percent of respondents reported that home prices remained constant or rose in August 2018 compared to levels one year ago (86 percent in August 2017).

Characteristics of Buyers and Sellers

  • First-time buyers accounted for 31 percent of sales (31 percent in August 2017).
  • Vacation and investment buyers comprised 13 percent of sales (15 percent in August 2017).
  • Sales of distressed properties (foreclosed or sold as a short sale) accounted for three percent of sales (four percent in August 2017).
  • Cash sales made up 20 percent of sales (20 percent in August 2017).
  • Eighteen percent of sellers offered incentives such as paying for closing costs (8 percent), providing warranty (7 percent), and undertaking remodeling (2 percent).[4]

Issues Affecting Buyers and Sellers

  • From June–August 2018, 76 percent of contracts settled on time (72 percent in August 2017).
  • Among sales that closed in August 2018, 76 percent had contract contingencies. The most common contingencies pertained to home inspection (58 percent), obtaining financing (45 percent), and getting an acceptable appraisal (43 percent).
  • REALTORS® report “low inventory” and “interest rate” as the major issues affecting transactions in August 2018.

About the RCI Survey

  • The RCI Survey gathers information from REALTORS® about local market conditions based on their client interactions and the characteristics of their most recent sales for the month.
  • The August 2018 survey was sent to 50,000 REALTORS® who were selected from NAR’s 1.3 million members through simple random sampling and to 8,386 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses.
  • There were 4,639 respondents to the online survey which ran from September 1-11, 2018. The survey’s overall margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is one percent. The margins of error for subgroups and sample proportions of below or above 50 percent are larger.
  • NAR weighs the responses by a factor that aligns the sample distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership.

The REALTORS® Confidence Index is provided by NAR solely for use as a reference. Resale of any part of this data is prohibited without NAR’s prior written consent. For questions on this report or to purchase the RCI series, please email: Data@realtors.org


[1] Thanks to George Ratiu, Managing Director, Housing and Commercial Research and Gay Cororaton, Research Economist for their data analysis and comments to the RCI Report.

[2] Respondents report on the most recent characteristics of their most recent sale for the month.

[3] An index greater than 50 means more respondents reported conditions as “strong” compared to one year ago than “weak.” An index of 50 indicates a balance of respondents

who viewed conditions as “strong” or “weak.”

[4] The difference in the sum of percentages to the total percentage of sellers who offered incentives is due to rounding.

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Rita Levine Real EstateRita Levine Real Estate
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2274 Route 300 P.O. Box 839, Wallkill, New York 12589

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