Designers Sound Off on the Worst Bathroom Colors

Nothing ruins a bathroom like a bad hue, and the gray trend may be one of the worst offenders, designers say.

“Bathrooms tend to be enclosed spaces, so greige-y muddy colors can make the space feel smaller and dingy,” Ariel Okin, an interior designer in New York City, told Apartment Therapy. “Lighter colors like bright crisp whites, powder blues, and spring greens always play really well in a bathroom, as do moodier shades such as inky navy and hunter green.”

A “gold beige” is a color that design consultant Kelly Bernier told Apartment Therapy she avoids as a bathroom color. “It’s not a current color, doesn’t work with any recent tile, and will make your room look dated,” she says. “Greige” is a range of colors combining grey and beige; some tones are warmer and some are cooler.

On the other hand, bright and neutral paints—like blues and whites—work great in bathrooms when paired with textures and color in the finishes, Sara Raak, a lifestyle and product stylist, told Apartment Therapy.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Home Improvement Projects Are Worth Cost and Time

WASHINGTON (October 3, 2019) – Homeowners who decide to undergo a home improvement project, whether it be interior or exterior modifications, often find that the task was worth the investment and time, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors®, with insights from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, an examination of 20 projects, surveyed Realtors®, consumers who have taken on home renovation projects and members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The report examines a variety of remodeling projects, using responses to rank the appeal of a given project, rank the value of the project in terms of resale and determine its overall functionality. The findings also reveal the reasons for remodeling, the success of taking on the various projects and the increased happiness reported in the home upon completion of the job.

October 2019 Remodeling impact infographic

After completing a remodeling project, 74% of owners have a greater desire to be in their home, 65% say they experience increased enjoyment, and 77% feel a major sense of accomplishment, according to the survey. Additionally, 58% report a feeling of happiness when they see their completed projects, while 38% say they have a feeling of satisfaction.

“Realtors® and homeowners alike recognize the value of taking on a major home remodeling project,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota, and broker at Edina Realty. “While these tasks can be time-consuming and costly, the projects are well worth the temporary inconveniences, as this report shows, and the final products ultimately reward us, with feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and higher home values.”

NAR calculated what it refers to as a “Joy Score” for each project. The score is based on the happiness homeowners reported with their renovations; the more pleased with a given project, the better the Joy Score, with the highest possible score being 10. Interior projects that received some of the higher Joy Scores are complete kitchen renovations, closet renovations, full interior and individual room paint jobs, kitchen upgrades and basement conversions to living areas. Exterior jobs with the highest Joy Scores were new fiberglass or steel front doors, new vinyl and wood windows and new roofing.

“The NAR report shows us that people often remodel for resale purposes, but it also reminds us that homeowners remodel, too, with the desire to make a home their own,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Kitchen Renovation

A complete kitchen renovation received a top Joy Score of 10. Ninety-three percent of those polled said they have a greater desire to be at home since the completion of their kitchen, and 95% said they have an increased sense of enjoyment when at home.

“The kitchen is a space homeowners frequent regularly throughout the course of the day,” Yun noted. “So when that area is remodeled to owners’ exact preferences – as they enter and exit the room – they continually experience the satisfaction of a job well done.”    

The most important result of a kitchen renovation is improved functionality and livability, according to 46% of those polled. As to the reasons why they decided to take on the project, 24% say they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces and materials. Another 20% report they had recently moved into their home and had a desire to customize the kitchen to their particular tastes.

“Kitchens serve as the “heart of the home” for many, and whether you like to entertain or cook, updating a kitchen ensures greater access and use as homeowners age, especially when the upgrades take accessibility into account,” said NARI 2019-2020 President of the Board, Robert Kirsic, (CKBR) certified kitchen and bath remodeler. “No matter the size of the kitchen, a certified professional can guide the design and build process in a way that will yield joy and happiness for the homeowner.”

Closet Renovation

Upgrading home closets was another task that received a 10 Joy Score. This is due in part to the inconvenience of a disorganized closet, which is something a homeowner encounters daily, often at the start of their day. When a closet renovation is finished, the sense of achievement is immediate. Thusly, 68% of those surveyed say they feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think about the completed project. Nearly three-quarters, 72%, report having a greater desire to be at home since finishing the job.

With a closet redesign, 56% say the most important result is better functionality and livability. Fifty-four percent say the top reason for doing the job was the need to improve organization and storage. Fifteen percent answered that it was time for a change.

Full Interior Paint Job

Completing a full interior paint job in the home scored a 9.8 Joy Score. A finished paint job is usually visible in every room in a home, which speaks to how important a task this is to respondents.

A vast majority, 88%, say they have a greater desire to be home since having their home freshly painted. Eighty-six percent report feeling a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project.

New Fiberglass Front Door

As mentioned, the installation of fiberglass front doors is a highly rated exterior project, receiving a Joy Score of 9.7. Seventy-nine percent of polled homeowners say they have had a greater desire to be at home upon completion of the job. Sixty-seven percent say they have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home, and another 69% state that they feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the completed project.

New Vinyl Windows

New vinyl windows also received a very high Joy Score, 9.6, while 42% of those surveyed say the most important result is improved functionality and livability. As for the top reasons for doing the job, 47% say they had a desire to improve their home’s energy efficiency and 23% say they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials.

Cost Recovered

Remodelers often take on projects with resale in mind, rather than their own home preferences. The report found the top projects for recovering cost are new roofing, hardwood floor refinishing, and new hardwood floor installation. NARI Remodelers estimate that new roofing costs $7,500, and Realtors® estimate that new roofing helps sellers recover $8,000, on average. That equates to 107% of value recovered from the project.

Lastly, NARI Remodelers estimate that new wood flooring costs $4,700, with Realtors® estimating the project helps sellers recover $5,000, or a 106% value recovery. NARI Remodelers estimate that hardwood floor refinishing costs $2,600, and Realtors® estimate that the hardwood floor refinishing would help sellers recover $2,600.

“Using a trusted, professional remodeler paves the way for a successful project outcome,” said NARI CEO, David R. Pekel, MCR, UDCP, CAPS. “NARI members adhere to our code of ethics, and work to design the best solution for homeowners to deliver satisfaction.”

About NAR’s Survey

In June and July of 2019, homeownership site HouseLogic.com surveyed consumers regarding the last remodeling project they undertook. A total of 2,193 respondents took the online survey. The Joy Score was calculated by combining the share who were happy and those who were satisfied when seeing their completed project and dividing the share by 10 to create a ranking between 1 and 10. Higher Joy Scores indicate greater joy from the project.

In March and June 2019, NARI emailed a cost survey to its 4,400 members. A total of 378 responses were received. The survey had an adjusted response rate of 11.6%. Respondents were asked to consider certain parameters.

In July 2019, NAR emailed an interior remodeling project survey to a random sample of 52,491 members. A total of 2,485 responses were received. The survey had an adjusted response rate of 4.7%, (see report for full methodology).

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Liven Up That Living Room’s Look

The living room—that main gathering spot in a home—is a critical part in your showings. Home stagers recently chimed in at Apartment Therapy with their favorite tips for creating a better-staged living room.

One of their biggest pieces of advice centered on the tendency to cram too much furniture into one space. Ensure the living room has proper flow with sizable walkways among furnishings. Nathan Thompson with Pavilion Broadway, a luxury interior design company with staging services in the U.K., told Apartment Therapy he has a rule of thumb to get the distance right: At least an 18-inch walkway between furniture pieces; with larger spaces, he recommends doubling that to 36 inches.

Getting the portions right is equally as important, designers say. Smaller furniture isn’t necessarily a way to make a space look smaller or inviting. Placing smaller furniture in a large room or one with high ceilings can cause the space to look out of scale, Thompson says. “Coffee tables should be about half the size of your sofa,” he says. A rug should be large enough that it at least touches the front legs of your furniture, he adds.

Designers also suggest avoiding the habit of wanting to be too matchy with your living room design. “If you purchase a matching sofa, loveseat, and chair, anything else you put with it will look like the odd man out,” Justin Riordan, interior designer and founder of the home staging company Spade and Archer Design Agency in Portland. While he’ll match lamps, he says he doesn’t like to match furniture when trying to create a sophisticated, designed space.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Home-Buying Myths About Mortgages

Think you’re not ready to unlock home ownership yet? That the financial hurdles are too high? You may be short-changing yourself. Many of the things renters believe about home-buying are myths.

Here’s the real deal.

Myth: I Have to Put Down 20%. 🙁

The Real Deal on Less Than 20% Down

While being in the less-than-20 club saves you up front, your lender may require a monthly fee called private mortgage insurance, or PMI. But you’ll start building equity sooner, and you can ask to stop it after you’ve accrued 20% equity in your home. Read More In Is Your Private Mortgage Insurance Premium Tax Deductible?

Saving 20% of the price of a home in many places isn’t just a challenge; it’s a roadblock. And it’s not a must-do. In fact, the median down payment for first-time buyers is 7%. How can you become part of the less-than-20 club?

Myth: My Low Credit Score Means I Can’t Buy a Home

So, your credit could use a tune-up. That doesn’t mean you have to forgo your home-buying dreams. Here are some options for those with a less-than-stellar credit score.

Myth: I Can’t Afford the Agent’s Commission

Here’s one you can immediately mark off your worry list. Typically, the commission is paid from the proceeds of the sale via the seller.

This is one of many reasons to contract with a buyer’s agent. The seller’s agent doesn’t work for you, and you need a pro in your corner.

Myth: My Bank Will Give Me the Best Mortgage

There are a lot of positive things to say about working with your local bank, but assuming they’ll give you the best mortgage is a mistake.

Banks are only one type of home-loan lender. Others include credit unions and mortgage companies. Mortgage rates aren’t the same across the board, so contact several institutions to ensure you’re getting the best price.

Or, if you prefer to let the lenders come to you, consider getting a loan through a mortgage broker. Brokers have access to several lenders, and they’ll shop their market, getting you a wider selection of loans. But unless you contract with one, brokers aren’t obligated to find the best deal for you. So you’ll want to shop around for a broker, just as you would for a lender.

Myth: I Was Pre-Approved. I Got The Loan!

Well . . . no. Don’t order that couch from West Elm or pack away your tax documents just yet.

You don’t get the loan until:

(a) The seller accepts your offer

(b) Your lender approves the loan (which you’ll need those tax docs for)

(c) You sign the loan papers 

Between (a) and (c), the lender will have the home appraised to ensure its value is in line with the purchase price, check your credit again, and ask you for more documents than you ever knew existed.

So what does “pre-approved” mean for a loan? It tells sellers you’re eligible for a loan and shows them you’re a serious, qualified buyer. This gives them confidence in your offer, increasing your chances of (a), (b), and (c) actually happening.

Myth: The Interest Rate Is What Matters Most

A low interest rate is important, but it’s not the only thing to consider. When shopping around for a loan, check the annual percentage rate (APR). It includes all loan costs, such as origination and processing fees that can vary widely from lender to lender, in addition to the interest rate.

One loan may have a lower interest rate, but the up-front fees cost more than you’d save in interest. The APR lets you compare apples to apples.

Before you sign the loan, your lender will give you a loan estimate, a line-by-line estimate of fees. You’ll find the APR there. Use that rate to compare the loans you’re considering.

How about that? You may be closer to home ownership than you thought. Happy house hunting!

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Where Homeowners, HOAs Bump Heads the Most

September 24, 2019

More people are purchasing homes in neighborhoods governed by a homeowners association. While HOA rules aim to establish order and consistency in a community, many homeowners say they often feel bylaws are intrusive. “Nit-picky rules are often at the heart of HOA-homeowner tensions, which can make residents feel like they’re perpetually under someone’s thumb,” say researchers at home remodeling website Porch.com, which surveyed more than 700 homeowners on the topic.

Nearly a third of respondents to the survey report having knowingly broken an HOA rule, and 52% say they have refused to pay an HOA fine. The most common HOA fines, according to the survey, were due to:

  • Improper landscaping.
  • Putting trash out too early or bringing it in too late.
  • Improper or untimely holiday decorations.
  • Owning a pet (for condo and apartment owners).
List of HOA fines. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

Still, 69% of survey respondents say they are satisfied with the way their HOA manages their community. Many indicate they were not specifically seeking to live under an HOA when they purchased their homes.

Why go HOA graphic. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

The average monthly HOA fee is $251 for homeowners, $310 for apartment or condo owners, and $230 for townhouse owners, the survey finds. The most used amenities that HOAs offer, according to the survey, are swimming pools, parks, and playgrounds. Eighteen percent of respondents say they use these amenities at least once a month.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Existing-Home Sales Increase 1.3% in August

WASHINGTON (September 19, 2019) – Existing-home sales inched up in August, marking two consecutive months of growth, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Three of the four major regions reported a rise in sales, while the West recorded a decline last month.

Total existing-home sales1, https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.3% from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in August. Overall sales are up 2.6% from a year ago (5.35 million in August 2018).

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, attributed the increase in sales to falling mortgage rates. “As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates,” he said. “The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.”

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in August was $278,200, up 4.7% from August 2018 ($265,600). August’s price increase marks the 90th straight month of year-over-year gains.

“Sales are up, but inventory numbers remain low and are thereby pushing up home prices,” said Yun. “Homebuilders need to ramp up new housing, as the failure to increase construction will put home prices in danger of increasing at a faster pace than income.”

Total housing inventory3 at the end of August decreased to 1.86 million, down from 1.90 million existing-homes available for sale in July, and marking a 2.6% decrease from 1.91 million one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.2 months in July and from the 4.3-month figure recorded in August 2018.

Properties typically remained on the market for 31 days in August, up from 29 days in July and in August of 2018. Forty-nine percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate (link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 3.62% in August, down from 3.77% in July. The average commitment rate across all of 2018 was 4.54%.

The Federal Reserve should have been bolder and made a deeper rate cut, given current low inflation rates,” said Yun. “The housing sector has been broadly underperforming but there is huge upward potential there that will help our overall economy grow.”

First-time buyers were responsible for 31% of sales in August, down from 32% in July and equal to the 31% recorded in August 2018. NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20184– revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 33%.

As the share of first-time buyers rose, individual investors or second-home buyers, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14% of homes in August 2019, up from 11% recorded in July and from 13% recorded in August a year ago. All-cash sales accounted for 19% of transactions in August, about equal to July’s percentage and moderately down from August 2018 (19% and 20%, respectively).

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 2% of sales in August, unchanged from July, but down from 3% in August 2018.

“Rates continue to be historically low, which is extremely beneficial for everyone buying or selling a home,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota, and broker at Edina Realty. “The new condominium loan policies, as well as other reforms NAR is pursuing within our housing finance system, will allow even more families and individuals in this country to reach the American Dream of homeownership.”

Regional Breakdown

Compared to July, existing-home sales recorded in August rose in the Northeast, Midwest and South regions, but fell slightly in the West region. Compared to last year, August sales increased in each of the four major regions, with the greatest gain coming in the South. Median home prices rose from a year ago, except in the Northeast, with the Midwest showing the highest price increase.

August existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 7.6% to an annual rate of 710,000, a 1.4% rise from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $303,500, down 0.3% from August 2018.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales grew 3.1% to an annual rate of 1.31 million, which is a 2.3% increase from August 2018. The median price in the Midwest was $220,000, a 6.6% jump from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 0.9% to an annual rate of 2.33 million in August, up 3.6% from a year ago. The median price in the South was $240,300, up 5.4% from one year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 3.4% to an annual rate of 1.14 million in August, 1.8% above a year ago. The median price in the West was $415,900, up 5.7% from August 2018.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales sat at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.90 million in August, up from 4.84 million in July and up 2.9% from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $280,700 in August 2019, up 4.7% from August 2018.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units in August, 1.7% above the rate from the previous month and about equal to a year ago. The median existing condo price was $257,600 in August, which is up 5.2% from a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services (MLS). Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

NOTE: NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for August is scheduled for release on September 26, and Existing-Home Sales for September will be released October 22; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET. Information about NAR is available at www.nar.realtor. This and other news releases are posted in the newsroom under the “About NAR” tab. Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the “Research and Statistics” tab.


1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

3Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90% of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s REALTORS® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.

5Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s REALTORS® Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Information Regarding Zillow Zestimates

Attached to this is a link to an article published in the Tri-Cities Journal of Business spelling out the discrepancies between actual home values and Zestimates. Data on 532 local homes shows Zillow’s numbers run too high.

Reprinted with the permission of the Tri-Cities Journal of Business.

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Priced Out Young Adults Shop for Investment Homes Far Away

September 11, 2019

Millennials who have been priced out of their local housing market are jumping online and searching for investment properties to buy elsewhere, Curbed.com reports.

“We find that millennials see the investment landscape very different than their parents do,” Alan Lewis, co-founder of DiversyFund, a platform where users can invest in multifamily developments online, told Curbed.com. “They’re jaded by the homebuying story, they’ve seen people overpay during the peak and be upside-down in their homes, and they see stock market volatility and don’t have an appetite for it. They want something that offers a departure from the rollercoaster ride.”

But that doesn’t mean they’re shunning homeownership. They believe it’s still lucrative to own, but when they live in an area where it’s harder to achieve, they’re finding another way to break into ownership.

Michael Pickens, 31, works in the Bay Area and has found homeownership to be unobtainable so far for his family in the high-priced market. But he and his wife now own six properties in multiple cities, including Pittsburgh and Memphis, Tenn.

“It’s very video game-like, like buying stocks,” Pickens, who used an online platform called Roofstock to buy the investment properties, told Curbed.com. “I’m physically buying these buildings and managing properties from afar.” Roofstock allows users to pick rental properties based on various returns and risk factors, such as location and tenant history. Pickens at first bought a duplex in Memphis for $129,000 and put 20% down on the purchase. He says after the mortgage payment and fees to use a property manager, he earns about $200 a month on the property.

New technologies are making it easier for consumers to pick up investment properties in other locations and manage them. “Smaller cities and rising markets offer the best chances for more consistent monthly returns, and emerging investment platforms offer a channel for capital to flow from the coasts,” Curbed.com reports on the trend. In many markets, the most money is earned through appreciation of the real estate asset and not through the monthly cash flow, Curbed.com reports.

Eleven percent of single-family homes sold last year were purchased by investors—the highest on record, according to data from CoreLogic.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Existing-Home Sales Climb 2.5% in July

WASHINGTON (August 21, 2019) – Existing-home sales strengthened in July, a positive reversal after total sales were down slightly in the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Although Northeast transactions declined, the other three major U.S. regions recorded sales increases, including vast growth in the West last month.

Total existing-home sales1, https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 2.5% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.42 million in July. Overall sales are up 0.6% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2018).

“Falling mortgage rates are improving housing affordability and nudging buyers into the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. However, he added that the supply of affordable housing is severely low. “The shortage of lower-priced homes have markedly pushed up home prices.”

Home price appreciation has been much stronger in the lower-price tier compared to homes sold in the upper-price tier, based on the analysis of proprietary deed records data from Black Knight, Inc. and Realtors Property Resource®.

Of the same homes that were sold in 2018 that were purchased in 2012 in 13 large metro areas (repeat sales transactions), the lower half of the market had increased by more than 100% in 2018 in metro areas like Atlanta-Sandy-Springs-Roswell, Ga. (165%), Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (103%), Miami-Fort-Lauderdale, Fla. (119%) and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (125%). The median home price for homes purchased in the upper half of the market in these same metro areas in 2012 increased at a much slower pace when sold in 2018.

“Clearly, the inventory of moderately-priced homes is inadequate and more home building is needed,” said Yun. “Some new apartments could be converted into condominiums thereby helping with the supply, especially in light of new federal rules permitting a wider use of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages to buy condo properties.”

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in July was $280,800, up 4.3% from July 2018 ($269,300). July’s price increase marks the 89th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of July decreased to 1.89 million, down from 1.92 million existing-homes available for sale in June, and a 1.6% decrease from 1.92 million one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, down from the 4.4 month-supply recorded in June and down from the 4.3-month supply recorded in July of 2018.

Properties typically remained on the market for 29 days in July, up from 27 days in June and up from 27 days in July of 2018. Fifty-one percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate (link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 3.77% in July, down from 3.80% in June. The average commitment rate across all of 2018 was 4.54%.

“Mortgage rates are important to consumers, but so is confidence about the nation’s overall economic outlook,” Yun continued. “Home buying is a serious long term decision and current low or even lower future mortgage rates may not in themselves meaningfully boost sales unless accompanied by improved consumer confidence.”

First-time buyers were responsible for 32% of sales in July, down from 35% the month prior and about equal to the 32% recorded in July 2018. NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20184 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 33%.

As the share of first-time buyers rose, individual investors or second-home buyers, who account for many cash sales purchased 11% of homes in July, up from 10% recorded in June 2019 and down from 12% recorded in July a year ago. All-cash sales accounted for 19% of transactions in July, up from June and down from July of 2018 (16% and 20%, respectively).

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 2% of sales in July, unchanged from June but down from 3% in July 2018. Less than 1% of July 2019 sales were short sales.

“Present rates have opened the market for a number of potential buyers who couldn’t afford a home just a year ago,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota, and broker at Edina Realty. “Additionally, NAR has been working with the FHA for years to establish new condominium loan policies. Our hard work has paid off, and this change will begin benefiting buyers, sellers and our members as soon as this fall.”

Regional Breakdown

Compared to June, existing-home sales recorded in July rose in the Midwest, South and West, but fell slightly in the Northeast region. Compared to last year, July sales dropped in the Northeast and West while experiencing modest gains in the Midwest and South. Median home prices rose from a year ago, except in the Northeast.

July existing-home sales in the Northeast decreased 2.9% to an annual rate of 660,000, a 4.3% decline from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $305,800, down 1.0% from July 2018.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales edged up 1.6% to an annual rate of 1.27 million, which is a 0.8% increase from July 2018. The median price in the Midwest was $226,300, an 8.1% surge from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 1.8% to an annual rate of 2.31 million in July, up 2.7% from a year ago. The median price in the South was $245,100, up 5.2% from one year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West shot up 8.3% to an annual rate of 1.18 million in July, just 0.8% below a year ago. The median price in the West was $408,000, up 3.7% from July 2018.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales sat at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in July, up from 4.71 million in June and up 1.0% from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $284,000 in July 2019, up 4.5% from July 2018.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 580,000 units in July, about equal to the rate from the prior month and down 3.3% from a year ago. The median existing condo price was $254,300 in July, which is up 2.5% from a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs. Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

3Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90% of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.

5Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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