September existing home sales climb 9.4%, highest since ’06

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Sales of existing homes climbed 9.4% in September, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday, the latest sign that the housing market remains red hot despite the coronavirus pandemic.

On a seasonally-adjusted rate, the selling pace of existing homes climbed to 6.54 million annualized units. That is the highest level for that metric since February 2006, at the peak of the previous housing bubble. The figure was well above economists’ expectations as well.

The median selling price of a home also climbed to $311,800, up 15% from a year earlier, according to NAR. This is largely because of low inventory of existing homes. Housing inventory fell to only 2.7 months of home inventory on the market. That’s a record low for that metric since NAR started tracking that data in 1982. Homes are moving off the market quickly as well, due to the lack of inventory, with a median home on the market only 21 days.

September is typically when home buying slows as the market enters into the fall and winter. But because of the pandemic, the spring home buying season was delayed a few months and pushed the bulk of the home buying season into the mid-to-late summer.

Regionally, the strongest market was Northeast, with existing home sales up 16.2% from a year earlier. Much of the Northeast was heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which caused many families to look for homes in the suburbs or out of major urban centers as they readjust to the possibility of working remotely for the foreseeable future.