Gold prices remain stable following home sales data released Friday by the National Association of Realtors which shows that home sales have fallen to a 3-year low. Current prices show no movement trading at $1,226.48 per ounce, while December futures are up a modest 0.08%.
Economic forecasts had sales rates of 5.29 million home units for September 2018, while the seasonally adjusted and annualized rate fell slightly short at 5.15 million units - it is likely that rising prices and mortgage costs are putting a damper on sales.
Home prices underwent the 79th month in a row of year-over-year gains, and the average rate for a 30-year fixed term mortgage advanced almost one percentage point in 2018 compared to the rate decline seen last year. Total housing inventory at the end of September decreased to 1.88 million existing homes on the market.
Economists on Home Sales
"This is the lowest existing home sales level since November 2015," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "A decade's high mortgage rates are preventing consumers from making quick decisions on home purchases. All the while, affordable home listings remain low, continuing to spur underperforming sales activity across the country."
Yun commented that tax cuts and a tight job market may have had a positive effect on the market, but that the effect was most likely stifled by rising mortgage rates as well as rising demand for houses creating steeper housing prices which are up 4.2% from last year with a median price of $258,100.
Bloomberg economist Carl Ricadonna concurred with this assessment, stating that higher income prospects throughout US households should help offset the rising costs of financing new homes, though forecasting a continued decline in home sales in the near future.
The Current Market
Three of four regions in the US experienced a drop in home sales, most notably in the South which saw a 5.4% decrease in sales, and least notably in the Midwest which was unchanged. Median house prices in the South are $223,900 per home, up 3% from last year while the Midwest average is up 1.9% at $200,200.
It’s possible that the South experienced the worst slump due to infrastructural damage from recent natural disasters.
“Led by a 5.4% decline in the South, the drop in existing-home sales in September was likely somewhat related to the impact from Hurricane Florence,” Mortgage Bankers Association Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni said. “Beyond that, housing demand still remains strong, and is bolstered by an incredibly healthy job market.”
Homes valued at under $100,000 saw an 18.3% decline in sales, the highest out of any price bracket. However, homes valued at over $1 million also saw the largest decrease in sales in the last two years with a 1.6% slump.
It would take 4.4 months to sell all available houses on the market at the current rate of sales compared to 4.3 months last month and 4.2 months last year. While a gap is emerging, anything under 5 months is still considered to be a tight housing market according to realtors groups.