National Housing-Market Statistics Show Some Ups and Some Downs

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reached 62 in September; builder confidence in the single-family home market hasn’t been this high since October 2005. But while builders are feeling confident about the single-family housing market, a lack of availability of both lots and labor could lead to future insecurity.

Future Construction

Across the country in August, housing starts fell 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.126 million units. This was not unusual, as single-month declines are often expected in a slowly improving housing market. Although housing starts decreased, building permits increased by 3.5 percent in August to 1.170 million. Builders will be busiest in the West in the coming months, as permits issued in this region were up 9.6 percent. The Midwest and South also posted permit gains of 2.9 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. The Northeast saw its permits fall by 4.4 percent.

National Existing-Home Sales Decrease

The National Association of Realtors reported that after three consecutive months of gains, national month-over-month sales fell 4.8 percent. No region of the country saw monthly sales gains from July to August. In the Northeast, sales were unchanged from July but were 6.1 percent higher than August 2014. Sales in the Midwest and the South fell by 1.5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively. Year over year, sales are 5.8 percent higher in the Midwest and 5.9 percent higher in the South. The West saw the steepest drop in August with a decline of 7.8 percent; sales are still 7.2 percent higher than a year earlier.

Housing Prices Increase

Price growth is starting to slow, which should be welcome news for buyers. The median existing-home price for all housing types reached $228,700 in August. The West saw the greatest increase with a 7.1 percent gain from a year ago. In the Midwest and the South, median prices climbed 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, above August 2014. And in the Northeast, prices increased 2.4 percent.