Despite seeing the start of their usual seasonal downturn, U.S. home sales improved annually again in October, according to a market summary report.
RE/MAX's latest National Housing Report, which follows changes in home sales, prices, and inventory in 53 metro areas across the United States, shows October transactions came in 2.6 percent higher than a year ago. The annual increase came despite a 0.8 percent drop from September's sales total.
October's increase marks only the second month this year in which sales have come in ahead of 2013 figures. Analysts have blamed the apparent slowdown on a range of causes, including inclement weather in the year's early months, challenges with affordability, and stricter lending conditions locking out creditworthy borrowers.
"Home sales in 2014 started the year slowly and then rose to equal the strong sales in 2013," said RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly. "Following usual seasonal trends and with prices rising at a reasonable rate, the market appears to be settling into a more sustainable growth pattern."
On a yearly basis, 34 of the 53 metros tracked in October posted higher sales. Increases were led by Honolulu (+22.9 percent), Orlando (+18.6 percent), Tampa (+18.3 percent), and Nashville (+16.9 percent).
Home prices continued on their growth track of the last few years, rising to a median $193,000 across RE/MAX's surveyed metros. October's median was 7.4 percent higher than last year, reflecting 33 straight months of rising prices. However, the pace of growth has slowed considerably this year come to a more moderate level.
Among all reporting metros, 44 posted higher sales prices compared to a year ago, according to RE/MAX.
The only metric that didn't improve from last year was the supply for for-sale homes. RE/MAX reported a 6.8 percent year-over-year decline in listings, putting the nation's average months' supply at 4.9 based on the current sale rate. A six-month supply is considered to be indicative of a balanced market between buyers and sellers.
Compared to September, home inventory was down 5.2 percent, RE/MAX reported.