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While signaling the end of 2019’s peak selling season, September home sales rose 8.1 percent year-over-year—the largest year-over-year increase since November 2016, according to the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report. Home purchases increased in 47 of the report’s 54 markets, forcing already tight inventory totals to drop 6.1 percent year-over-year for the biggest decline in over a year.

The year-over-year increase in September 2019 sales was the largest September increase since 2013. This was accompanied by an August-to-September decline of 17.0 percent, which—while larger than average—was significantly less than the month-to-month drop of 24.4 percent in September 2018, when sales sharply declined amid an uncertain interest rate environment.

September 2019 marked the third consecutive month of year-over-year inventory decline. That reversed the strongest nine-month-stretch of year-over-year inventory growth—from October 2018 to June 2019—in report history. Meanwhile, the August-to-September seasonal inventory decline of 1.5 percent was less than the August-to-September five-year average drop of 2.3 percent.

“It was encouraging to see the improvement in September home sales, especially given how tough last September’s results were,” says RE/MAX Holdings CEO Adam Contos. “The market still poses some challenges for buyers—framed by rising prices and shrinking inventory—but we’re moving into the fourth quarter on much better footing than we had a year ago. As we begin to lap the end of last year and its persistent sales declines, the housing market’s momentum increases the chances of seeing more months of strong year-over-year gains in sales.”

September’s median sales price of $254,500 was a year-over-year increase of 4.5 percent, which is in line with the year-over-year average gain of 4.9 percent for 2019’s first nine months.

Closed Transactions
Of the 54 metro areas surveyed in September 2019, the overall average number of home sales is down 17.0 percent compared to August 2019, and up 8.1 percent compared to September 2018. Leading the year-over-year sales percentage increases were Los Angeles, Calif., at +31.4 percent, Little Rock, Ark., at +24.2 percent, and Tulsa, Okla., at +22.1 percent.

Median Sales Price
In September 2019, the median of all 54 metro median sales prices was $254,500, down 2.5 percent from August 2019, and up 4.5 percent from September 2018. Five metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in Detroit, Mich., at +15.6 percent, Birmingham, Ala., at +15.3 percent, and Charlotte, N.C., at +11.8 percent. Two metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in median sales price: San Francisco, Calif., at -2.1 percent, and Billings, Mont., at -0.5 percent.

Days on Market
The average days on market for homes sold in September 2019 was 46, up one day from the average in August 2019, and equal to the September 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest days on market were Omaha, Neb., at 19, Cincinnati, Ohio, at 26, and Nashville, Tenn., at 28. The highest days on market averages were in Des Moines, Iowa, at 98, Miami, Fla., at 91, and Hartford, Conn., at 79. Days on market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory
The number of homes for sale in September 2019 was down 1.5 percent from August 2019 and down 6.1 percent from September 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in September 2019, the months supply of inventory increased to 3.2 compared to 3.0 in August 2019, and decreased compared to 4.2 in September 2018. A six-months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In September 2019, of the 54 metro areas surveyed, only Miami, Fla., at 7.5 and New York, N.Y., at 6.3 reported a months supply at or over six, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest months supply of inventory were Manchester, N.H., at 1.7 and Phoenix, Ariz., at 1.8.

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