Morning Briefing: Existing sales hit 9-year high, median prices at all-time record

by Steve Randall23 Jun 2016
Existing sales hit 9-year high, median prices at all-time record
Sales of existing homes increased by 1.8 per cent in May, reaching their highest pace in 9 years.
The National Association of Realtors says that all regions saw an increase with the exception of the Midwest. The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of existing sales was 5.53 million from a downwardly revised 5.43 million in April. Year-over-year, sales are up 4.5 per cent.

While low mortgage rates and rising prices are helping current homeowners to trade-up, the situation is little-improved for those trying to get a foot on the property ladder as the share of first-time buyers declined to 30 per cent from 32 per cent in April.

"With first-time buyers still struggling to enter the market, repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment are making up the bulk of home purchases right now."

Median home prices hit an all-time high of $239,700, up 4.7 per cent from May 2015. It was the 51st consecutive rise in median prices.

Inventory remains tight though with 2.15 million existing homes available, a 1.4 per cent rise in May compared to April, but 5.7 per cent below May 2015.
 
Sharp rise in unaffordability says RealtyTrac
Real estate data firm RealtyTrac says that affordability has taken a hit in the second quarter of 2016.
A survey based on the percentage of average wages required to meet mortgage payments on a median priced home showed that 18 metros were deemed unaffordable, up from 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2015.

“Although nearly one in five U.S. housing markets was not affordable by historic standards in the second quarter, the good news is that affordability is improving compared to a year ago in the majority of markets thanks to a combination of slowing home price appreciation and accelerating wage growth, along with falling interest rates,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac.
Affordability has improved year-over-year due to the lower mortgage rates.
 
US cities become less affordable for relocating foreign workers
Multinational companies relocating employees from outside the US are finding it more expensive for their workers to live here.

Cities in the United States have climbed in the Cost of Living rankings from HR consultancy Mercer, due to the strength of the US dollar against other major currencies, in addition to the significant drop of cities in other regions which resulted in US cities being pushed up the list.

New York is up five places to rank 11, the highest-ranked city in the region. San Francisco (26) and Los Angeles (27) climbed eleven and nine places, respectively, from last year while Seattle (83) jumped twenty-three places.

Among other major US cities, Honolulu (37) is up fifteen places, Washington, DC (38) is up twelve places, and Boston (47) is up seventeen spots. Portland (117) and Winston Salem, North Carolina (147) remain the least expensive US cities surveyed for expatriates.
 

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