Strengthening home sales

STRENGTHENING HOME SALES After a slow year in 2014, sales of new single-family homes rose by a robust 14.6 percent in 2015. At just 501,000 units, however, sales remained well below averages in previous decades (Figure 9). Sales of existing homes also rebounded from their 2014 decline, up 6.3 percent to just under 5.3 mil- lion units. Although the rollout of new mortgage disclosure regulations in October led to a temporary dip, existing home sales closed 2015 on a strong note.

Encouragingly, sales of non-distressed properties are driving growth. CoreLogic reports that real-estate owned (REO) and short sales fell by 10–11 percent in 2015, while non-distressed resales rose by 7.6 percent. With this shift, distressed sales accounted for just over 12 percent of existing home sales in 2015, down from 14 percent a year earlier and 28 percent at the peak in 2009–2011. In addition, cash sales (often to inves- tors) accounted for about a third of home purchases last year, the lowest share since 2008 but still well above the pre-crisis average of 25 percent. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the first-time buyer share of home sales slipped for the third straight year to 32 percent, its lowest level since 1987.

Sources: JCHS tabulations of NAR, Existing Home Sales and US Census Bureau, New Residential Sales data.

● Existing Homes (Left scale) ● New Homes (Right scale)


















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New Home Sales Are Still at Historic Lows Units Sold (Millions)





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