As rising mortgage rates continue to cool the housing market, the volume of existing home sales has declined for eight consecutive months as of September, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The average 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate has increased from 3.11% at the start of the year to 6.9% this week, the highest level since April 2002, making housing less affordable. However, home price appreciation slowed for the third month after reaching a record high of $413,800 in June.
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.71 million in September, the lowest pace since September 2012 with the exception of April and May 2020. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 23.8% lower than a year ago.
The first-time buyer share stayed at 29% in September, consistent with August 2022 and slightly higher than 28% from September 2021. The September inventory level fell from 1.28 to 1.25 million units and was lower than 1.26 million from a year ago.
At the current sales rate, September unsold inventory sits at a 3.2-month supply, unchanged from last month and higher than the 2.4-months reading from a year ago.
Homes stayed on the market for an average of just 19 days in September, up from 16 days in August and 17 days in September 2021. In September, 70% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.
The September all-cash sales share was 22% of transactions, down from 24% last month and 23% a year ago.
The September median sales price of all existing homes was $384,800, up 8.4% from a year ago, representing the 127th consecutive month of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record. The median existing condominium/co-op price of $331,700 in September was up 9.8% from a year ago.
Geographically, three regions saw a decline in existing home sales in September, ranging from 1.6% in the Northeast to 1.9% in the South. Sales in the West remained unchanged in September. On a year-over-year basis, all four regions saw a double-digit decline in sales, ranging from 18.7% in the Northeast to 31.3% in the West.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) is a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts. The PHSI fell 2.0% from 90.2 to 88.4 in August. On a year-over-year basis, pending sales were 24.2% lower than a year ago per the NAR data.
The prices of goods used in residential construction climbed 1.5% in June (not seasonally adjusted) even as softwood lumber prices fell 23%, according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) report. Prices have surged 41.7% since January 2020. Building materials (i.e., goods inputs to residential construction, less energy) prices have increased 4.8%, year-to-date, and are 12.2% higher than they were in June 2021.
The price index of services inputs to residential construction was driven 2.1% lower in June after a 2.0% decline in May (revised) by decreases in the building materials retail and wholesale trade indices. The services PPI is 0.1% lower than it was 12 months prior and 37.6% higher than its pre-pandemic level.
The PPI for softwood lumber (seasonally adjusted) fell sharply (-22.6%) in June, its second such decline in three months. Prices have fallen 35.0% since March 2022, although the extent to which the decrease has reached home builders and remodelers is unclear.
Since early 2020, softwood lumber prices have been extraordinarily volatile. The average monthly change in the PPI for softwood lumber has been 2.6% since January 2020, nearly nine times the average change (+0.3%) from 1947 to 2020. The volatility of softwood lumber prices has exhibited the same pattern relative to the “all commodities” PPI. While lumber prices were 19.7% more volatile over the 1947-2020 period, they have been 100.1% more volatile than the broader index since January 2020.
The PPI for ready-mix concrete (RMC) gained 1.9% in June following increases in May (+0.8%) and April (+1.1%). The index has climbed 5.1%, year-to-date, and 11.3% over the past 12 months. Over the two decades beginning January 2000, the price of RMC moved more than 1% in 24 of 240 survey months. It has increased/decreased more than 1% in seven of the 30 months since, including three times through the first half of 2022.
Price changes were broad based geographically but increased the most in the Northeast where they rose 6.3% in June. Prices also increased in the South (+0.9%), Midwest (+1.6%), and West (+1.0%). Although prices are higher than pre-pandemic levels in all regions, the variance of increases across regions is quite large, ranging from 10.6% in the Midwest to 23.2% in the West.
The PPI for gypsum products increased 0.1% in June after surging 7.1% in May. and has soared 22.6% over the past year. After a quiet 2020, the price of gypsum products climbed 23.0% in 2021 and is up 7.6% through the first half of 2022.
Steel mill products prices decreased 1.8% in June after increasing 13.6% over the two prior months. 10.7%. Although prices are 6.5% below their all-time high (reached in December 2021), they are twice January 2021 levels.
The PPI for architectural coatings (i.e., paint) was flat over the month as the price of exterior paint gained 0.1% and that of interior paint did not change. The PPI for paint has not declined since January 2021—the prices of exterior and interior paint have risen 49.3% and 33.2%, respectively, in the months since.
Transportation of Freight
The price of truck transportation of freight decreased 0.4% in June, the first monthly decline since May 2020. Since then, the indices for local and long-distance motor carrying prices are up 31.0%% and 46.5%, respectively.
Water transportation costs declined 1.5% in June after increasing 21.6% over the prior two months. Deep sea (i.e., ocean) transportation of freight prices—which are 27.2% higher than they were in March—have accounted for most of the three-month increase as the category accounts for over half of the water transportation PPI. The price of deep sea water freight has climbed 57.8% since the spring of 2020.
Not only have freight costs increased, but the prices of services to arrange freight logistics have climbed steeply as well. Over the course of 2021, the PPI for the arrangement of freight and cargo increased 95.1%. Although prices have fallen nearly 12%, YTD, they remain 57.5% above pre-pandemic levels.
Other Building Materials
The chart below shows the 12-month and year-to-date price changes of other price indices relevant to the residential construction industry.
It’s the sharpest year-over-year decline in affordability on record.
Why it matters: The cost of housing is a major source of irritation for the American public after two years of pandemic restrictions and persistent inflation.
A separate report from housing market research firm Black Knight published yesterday shows that the monthly principal and interest payment on an average-priced home, by a buyer who puts 20% down, has gone up by roughly $600 —44% — since the start of the year.
How it works: The drop in affordability is being driven by two components.
Surging house prices: One popular gauge of home prices known as the Case-Shiller index showed home prices posting their biggest ever year-on-year gain in March when they rose 20.6%.
Surging mortgage rates: Over the last year, the rate for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has jumped from 3% to more than 5%.
What they’re saying: “Given 2022’s affordability collapse, these [home price appreciation] levels likely are at or near the peaks for this cycle. Key question is how much and how quickly they will decline,” Bank of America analysts wrote in a research note published on Friday.
Home prices increased 19.8% in February year over year, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index. That is up from the 19.1% annual increase in January and is the third-highest reading in the index’s 35-year history.
The 10-city composite annual increase came in at 18.6%, up from 17.3% in the previous month. The 20-city composite was up 20.2%, rising from 18.9%.
Sun Belt cities continued to see the highest gains. Phoenix, Tampa, Florida, and Miami saw annual home price gains of 32.9% 32.6% and 29.7%, respectively. All 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending February 2022 versus the year ending January 2022.
Minneapolis, New York and Washington, D.C., saw the smallest price gains, although they were still in the double digits.
“The macroeconomic environment is evolving rapidly and may not support extraordinary home price growth for much longer,” wrote Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P DJI, in a release. “The post-Covid resumption of general economic activity has stoked inflation, and the Federal Reserve has begun to increase interest rates in response. We may soon begin to see the impact of increasing mortgage rates on home prices.”
While mortgage rates began rising slowly at the start of this year, they didn’t really take off sharply higher until March. Given that this reading is a three-month running average through February, it doesn’t show much of an impact from rates. That could be coming next, though.WATCH NOWVIDEO02:04Home prices keep rising, despite drop in sales
“Today’s S&P Case Shiller Index highlights a housing market experiencing a renewed sense of urgency in February, as buyers worked through a small number of homes for sale in an effort to get ahead of surging mortgage rates. The imbalance between strong demand and insufficient supply pushed prices higher,” said George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com
For a median-priced home financed with a 30-year loan, the monthly payment is $550 higher than a year ago, an increase of 46%, according to calculations by Realtor.com
Prices historically tend to lag sales by about six months, and pending sales, which measure signed contracts, have been falling for four straight months through February, according to the National Association of Realtors. March’s reading will be released Wednesday.
“As we move through the spring housing market, we are seeing clear signs of cooling demand. Many buyers are deciding to take a step back and re-evaluate their budgets and timelines,” added Ratiu.
National home prices grew at an unsustainable pace in December, supported by strong demand and record-low inventory. Home price appreciation is expected to slow in the coming quarters as rising mortgage rates price some homebuyers out of the market.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 16.9% in December, following a 15.1% increase in November. National home prices are now 51.8% higher than their last peak during the housing boom in 2006. On a year-over-year basis, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index posted an 18.8% annual gain in December, the same increase as in November. Home price appreciation (YOY) has slowed since September 2021.
Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.6% in December, following a 15.3% increase in November. On a year-over-year basis, the FHFA Home Price NSA Index rose by 17.7% in December, the same gain as in November.
In addition to tracking national home price changes, S&P CoreLogic reported home price indexes across 20 metro areas in December. All 20 metro areas reported positive home price appreciation and their annual growth rates ranged from 8.6% to 34.4%. Among all 20 metro areas, thirteen metro areas exceeded the national average of 16.9%. San Diego led the way with a 34.4% increase, followed by Seattle with a 27.1% increase and Dallas with a 26.8% increase.
The scatter plot below lists the 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas’ annual growth rates in November and in December. The X-axis presents the annual growth rates in November; the Y-axis presents the annual growth rates in December. Five out of the 20 metro areas had a deceleration in home price growth, including Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, Las Vegas, and Seattle.
Homeownership continues to swerve into unaffordable territory, with median-priced single-family homes becoming less affordable in three-quarters of the nation’s market, a report published by ATTOMData Solutions last week said.
Per the report, between October to December 2021, median home prices in 440 of the 575 counties analyzed by the data vendor saw notable home-price growth. As a result, 77% of counties included in the report have now been labeled as less affordable by ATTOM, up from 39% of counties in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The data vendor also noted that in the third quarter of 2021, 428 counties from the same data set were labeled as less affordable, up from 224 counties in the fourth quarter of 2020.
On average, the median national home price grew by 17% over the past year to $317,500, according to the report.
Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM, said in a statement that the financial comfort zone for homebuyers continues to shrink as home prices rise and mortgage rates tick upwards.
“Historically low rates and rising wages are still big reasons why workers can meet or come very close to standard lending benchmarks in a majority of counties we analyze,” Teta said. “ But the portion of wages required for major ownership expenses nationwide is getting closer to levels where banks become less likely to offer home loans.”
ATTOM found that ownership costs have risen in the fourth quarter of 2021, with the typical home consuming 25.2% of the average national wage of $65,546. In comparison, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw ownership costs at 21.5%.
However, ATTOM noted that the latest level is still within the 28% standard lenders prefer for how much homeowners should spend on mortgage payments, home insurance and property taxes.
The report added that house hunters unscathed financially by the pandemic have buoyed housing costs, as they “surged into the market amid a combination of mortgage rates hovering around 3 percent and a desire to trade congested virus-prone areas for the perceived safety of a house and yard, as well as the space for growing work-at-home lifestyles.”
“Amid very uncertain times, with the pandemic again threatening the economy, we will keep watching this key measure of housing market stability,” Teta concluded.
A real estate firm seeks to block a new Oregon law that bans real estate agents from forwarding “love letters” from homebuyers to sellers.
A lawsuit filed in federal court Friday by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of Total Real Estate Group alleges the state’s ban on these communications violates the First Amendment rights of real estate brokers and their clients.
“This censorship is based on mere speculation that sellers might sometimes rely on information in these letters to discriminate based on a protected class,” according to the lawsuit.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Oregon Real Estate Commissioner Steve Strode could not be reached for comment.
Oregon is the first state to ban the practice. Under the law, which is scheduled to take effect in January, real estate agents will not be allowed to pass along personal pitches from buyers that can include details about people’s lives along with photographs and videos. Buyers will still be allowed to communicate directly with home sellers.
In hot markets where multiple bidders jockey for the same house, buyers will do just about anything to get their offer noticed – and that includes writing “love letters” in hopes of making a personal connection with a seller.
Increasingly, the real industry has grown uneasy that “love letters” could violate state and federal fair housing laws by revealing the buyer’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or familial status. Many real estate agents refuse to accept or deliver them.
Democratic Rep. Mark Meek, the state lawmaker who sponsored the legislation, told USA TODAY in August that Oregon is not impeding free speech.
“We are limiting transmission of communications that are not relevant and could potentially be breaking fair housing laws,” he said.
No other state has followed Oregon’s lead.
Daniel Ortner, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, said the law is “a blatant First Amendment violation.”
“Love letters” can help first-time buyers compete with cash-rich buyers or institutional investors and can help sellers searching for buyers who will care for their homes and be good neighbors, Ortner said. The letters signal genuine interest in a property, he said.
Ortner said the law’s proponents have not produced any examples of fair housing complaints or lawsuits as a result of love letters.
“This is a solution in search of a problem. There is no evidence that it is a real problem that’s really resulting in discrimination,” he said. “And you can’t just go and ban whole types of communication in the fear that some small portion of it might somehow be used by someone.”
The backlash against love letters is part of an industrywide reckoning with its complicity in decades of housing discrimination and segregation that kept Black Americans from homeownership.
In 2019, Newsday published the findings of a three-year undercover investigation that exposed discriminatory home-selling practices by real estate agents that helped keep neighborhoods in Long Island, New York, segregated. Agents treated people of color unequally, especially Black residents, the investigation found.
Efforts to reform racist practices and increase Black homeownership intensified after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Last year, the National Association of Realtors warned members love letters were not as harmless as they seemed.
But as stratospheric prices and record low housing inventory fuel bidding wars, love letters are more popular than ever.
Realtors said they don’t want to put their buyers at a disadvantage in competitive situations by refusing to pass them along. Besides, they said, sellers are swayed first and foremost by the offering price and terms.
But the right words can be persuasive. In 2019, the Redfin real estate brokerage studied the most effective strategies to win a bidding war. All-cash offers more than tripled a buyer’s odds. Writing a love letter came in second, increasing a buyer’s chances by 59%.
The average interest rates on 30- and 15-year mortgages fell to their lowest levels in more than a month as rates offered on home loans retreated across the board.
The average rate offered to homebuyers using a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage, the most popular type of home loan, fell to 3.25% from 3.29% the previous business day. The average for a 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 2.48% from 2.52% the previous business day. Both are the lowest they’ve been since early October.
Fixed mortgage rates tend to track 10-year Treasury yields, which usually rise with heightened inflation fears (and fall when those fears subside.) Investor concerns about soaring inflation have generally pushed yields to a much higher range since the summer, plus everyone is closely watching how the Federal Reserve interprets the latest inflation data and whether it will take drastic action to control it. Yields have fallen some since last week, when the Fed said it would begin to pull back on the easy money policies it put in place to help the economy through the pandemic.
The average 30-year rate hit a six-month high of 3.48% late last month, but even at that level, it was pretty low by historic standards. According to a Freddie Mac measure that dates back farther than our data, the 30-year hasn’t gone more than about half a percentage point higher than its record low of last winter. Three years ago, it was almost 5% and at the start of the 1990s, around 10%.
During the pandemic, these relatively low rates have bolstered buying power, allowing house hunters to buy more expensive homes with the same monthly budget and helping to fuel a fiercely competitive residential real estate boom that has only recently begun to cool slightly. For the same reasons, the uptick in rates over the past few months has discouraged borrowing, in particular refinancing activity. An index measuring the volume of applications to refinance an existing mortgage is at its lowest level since January 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Mortgage rates, like the rates on any loan, are going to depend on your credit score, with lower rates going to people with better scores, all else being equal. The rates shown reflect the average offered by more than 200 of the country’s top lenders, assuming the borrower has a FICO credit score of 700-759 (within the “good” or “very good” range) and a loan-to-value ratio of 80%.
30-Year Mortgage Rates Drop
A 30-year fixed mortgage is by far the most common type of mortgage because it offers a consistent and relatively low monthly payment. (Shorter-term fixed mortgages have higher payments because the borrowed money is paid back more quickly.)
30-year fixed: The average rate fell to 3.25%, down from 3.29% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.37%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $435.21, or $6.61 less than a week ago.
30-year fixed (FHA): The average rate fell to 3.04% from 3.08% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.19%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $423.76, or $8.16 less than a week ago.
30-year fixed (VA): The average rate fell to 3.08% from 3.12% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.25%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments will cost about $425.93, or $9.28 less than a week ago.
A lower rate can lower your monthly payment, but it can also give you more buying power, something you’ll want if you’re considering jumping into this fiercely competitive real estate market. For example, at 3% on a 30-year mortgage, your payments for a $380,000 home would be about $1,900 a month, assuming a 20% down payment, typical homeowners’ insurance costs, and property taxes, per our mortgage calculator. If you lock in a rate at 2.9%, though, you’ll have the same monthly payment for a $383,500 home.
15-Year Mortgage Rate Falls
The major advantage of a 15-year fixed mortgageis that it offers a lower interest rate than the 30-year and you’re paying off your loan more quickly, so your total borrowing costs are far lower. But for the same reason—that the loan is paid back over a shorter time frame—the monthly payments will be higher.
15-year fixed: The average rate fell to 2.48% from 2.52% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 2.57%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $665.85, or $4.24 less than a week ago.
Besides fixed-rate mortgages, there are adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), where rates change based on a benchmark index tied to Treasury bonds or other interest rates. Most adjustable-rate mortgages are actually hybrids, where the rate is fixed for a period of time and then adjusted periodically. For example, a common type of ARM is a 5/1 loan, which has a fixed rate for five years (the “5” in “5/1”) and is then adjusted every one year (the “1”).
Jumbo Mortgage Rates Are Down
Jumbo loans, which allow you to borrow bigger amounts for more expensive properties, tend to have slightly higher interest rates than loans for more standard amounts. Jumbo means over the limit that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are willing to buy from lenders, typically $548,250 for a single-family home (except in Hawaii, Alaska, and a few federally designated high-cost markets, where the limit is $822,375).
Jumbo 30-year fixed: The average rate fell to 3.44% from 3.45% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.54%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $445.70, or $5.58 less than a week ago.
Jumbo 15-year fixed: The average rate fell to 3.24% from 3.26% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.32%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $702.18, or $3.90 less than a week ago.
Refinance Rates Decline
Refinancing an existing mortgage tends to be slightly more expensive than getting a new one, especially in a low-rate environment.
30-year fixed: The average rate to refinance fell to 3.36% from 3.4% the previous business day. A week ago, it was3.5%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $441.27, or $7.77 less than a week ago.
15-year fixed: The average rate to refinance fell to $2.58% from 2.62% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 2.68%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments at that rate will cost about $670.56, or $4.74 less than a week ago.
Our rates for “today” reflect national averages provided by more than 200 of the country’s top lenders one business day ago, and the “previous” is the rate provided the business day before that. Similarly, the week earlier references compare the data from five business days earlier (so bank holidays are excluded.) The rates assume a loan-to-value ratio of 80% and a borrower with a FICO credit score of 700 to 759—within the “good” to “very good” range. They’re representative of the rates customers would see in actual quotes from lenders, based on their qualifications, and may vary from advertised teaser rates.
S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) today released the latest results for the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices. Data released today for July 2021 show that home prices continue to increase across the U.S. More than 27 years of history are available for the data series and can be accessed in full by going to https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 19.7% annual gain in July, up from 18.7% in the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 19.1%, up from 18.5% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 19.9% year-over-year gain, up from 19.1% in the previous month.
Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in July. Phoenix led the way with a 32.4% year-over-year price increase, followed by San Diego with a 27.8% increase and Seattle with a 25.5% increase. Seventeen of the 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending July 2021 versus the year ending June 2021.
Before seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted an 1.6% month-over-month increase in July, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively.
After seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a month-over-month increase of 1.5%, and the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively. In July, all 20 cities reported increases before and after seasonal adjustments.
“July 2021 is the fourth consecutive month in which the growth rate of housing prices set a record,” says Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P DJI. “The National Composite Index marked its fourteenth consecutive month of accelerating prices with a 19.7% gain from year-ago levels, up from 18.7% in June and 16.9% in May. This acceleration is also reflected in the 10- and 20-City Composites (up 19.1% and 19.9%, respectively). The last several months have been extraordinary not only in the level of price gains, but in the consistency of gains across the country. In July, all 20 cities rose, and 17 gained more in the 12 months ended in July than they had gained in the 12 months ended in June. Home prices in 19 of our 20 cities now stand at all-time highs, with the sole outlier (Chicago) only 0.3% below its 2006 peak. The National Composite, as well as the 10- and 20-City indices, are likewise at their all-time highs.
“July’s 19.7% price gain for the National Composite is the highest reading in more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data. This month, New York joined Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle in recording their all-time highest 12-month gains. Price gains in all 20 cities were in the top quintile of historical performance; in 15 cities, price gains were in the top five percent of historical performance.
“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by a reaction to the COVID pandemic, as potential buyers move from urban apartments to suburban homes. July’s data are consistent with this hypothesis. This demand surge may simply represent an acceleration of purchases that would have occurred anyway over the next several years. Alternatively, there may have been a secular change in locational preferences, leading to a permanent shift in the demand curve for housing. More time and data will be required to analyze this question.
“Phoenix’s 32.4% increase led all cities for the 26th consecutive month, with San Diego (+27.8%) and Seattle (+25.5%) not far behind. As has been the case for the last several months, prices were strongest in the Southwest (+24.2%) and West (+23.7%), but every region logged double-digit gains and recorded all-time high rate increases.”
Table 1 below shows the housing boom/bust peaks and troughs for the three composites along with the current levels and percentage changes from the peaks and troughs.
From Peak (%)
From Trough (%)
From Peak (%)
Table 2 below summarizes the results for July 2021. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices could be revised for the prior 24 months, based on the receipt of additional source data.
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic
Data through July 2021
Table 3 below shows a summary of the monthly changes using the seasonally adjusted (SA) and non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data. Since its launch in early 2006, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices have published, and the markets have followed and reported on, the non-seasonally adjusted data set used in the headline indices. For analytical purposes, S&P Dow Jones Indices publishes a seasonally adjusted data set covered in the headline indices, as well as for the 17 of 20 markets with tiered price indices and the five condo markets that are tracked.
S&P Dow Jones Indices is the largest global resource for essential index-based concepts, data and research, and home to iconic financial market indicators, such as the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®. More assets are invested in products based on our indices than products based on indices from any other provider in the world. Since Charles Dow invented the first index in 1884, S&P DJI has been innovating and developing indices across the spectrum of asset classes helping to define the way investors measure and trade the markets.
S&P Dow Jones Indices is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI), which provides essential intelligence for individuals, companies, and governments to make decisions with confidence. For more information, visit https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.
After notable and expected downward revisions for prior months, May recorded a decline of 5.9% for sales of newly-constructed single family homes, according to estimates from the Census Bureau and HUD. The May seasonally adjusted annual rate (769k) was the lowest in a year, due to builders slowing sales as a consequence of higher material costs and declining availability of labor, material and lots.
Residential demand continues to be supported by low interest rates, a renewed consumer focus on the importance of housing, and solid demand in lower-density markets like suburbs and exurbs. However, higher building costs, longer delivery times, and general unpredictability in the residential construction supply-chain are having measurable impacts on new home prices. In May, the median price of a newly-built home was 18% higher than a year ago, at $374,400. As NAHB has estimated, higher lumber costs alone are increasing new home prices by $36,000 on average.
Higher costs have priced out buyers, particularly at the lower end of the market. A year ago, 44% of new home sales were priced below $300,000. In May 2021, only 26% of new home sales were priced below $300,000.
Looking back to the spring of last year, the April 2020 data (570,000 annualized pace) marks the low point of sales for the 2020 recession. The April 2020 rate was 26% lower than the prior peak, pre-recession rate set in January. Sales then mounted a historic surge from April until July, outpacing gains in actual construction. Sales have been above the pace of the post-Great Recession trend since the second half of last year. However, since January the trend has been declining and has now dipped below the long-run trend (as indicated by the blue dashed line in the graph above).
Sales-adjusted inventory levels remained healthy in May, although they did increase to a 5.1 months’ supply.
Completed ready-to-occupy homes continue to fall as a share of new home inventory. Such homes were just under 24% of inventory a year ago. They are only a little more than 11% of the total in May 2021.
Moreover, to see how sales patterns have changed in a high demand, low supply market — the count of new homes sold that had not started construction is up 76 percent over the last year. The count of new homes sold that are completed and ready to occupy is down 33 percent.
Regionally on a year-to-date basis new home sales rose in all four regions, up 48.7% in the Northeast, 33.5% in the Midwest, 32.3% in the South, and 5.6% in the West. These significant increases are due in part to lower sales volume during the Covid crisis a year ago.