Existing Home Sales Statistics for 2020

Last modified: November 22, 2020
Existing home sales statistics are used to gauge the price and sale of existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops in the US. Read on to find out more!

Existing home sales statistics are used to gauge the price and sale of existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops in the US and are compiled and released monthly by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Most of the data is (somewhat) delayed compared to new house sales due to the time it takes to close a mortgage (30–60 days).

Analysts can use these stats in conjunction with the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) to get a clearer picture of the progression and state of the current housing market. The following statistics will give you some insight into the US real estate market.

Recent Sales of Homes Stats and Facts (Editor’s Choice):

  • Approximately 5.25 million existing homes were sold in the US in 2019.
  • 2008 had the lowest level of existing property sales this century, at only 4.12 million.
  • It is estimated that there are currently about 6.12 million homes for sale in the US.
  • The value of US homes has gone up 3.7% over the past year.
  • 8.2% of homeowners in the US owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.

US Homeowner Stats — General Overview

 

1. Existing home sales data estimates the median home price to be somewhere around $267,300.

(Source: National Association of Realtors)

Keep in mind that this metric is not indicative of the average price of a home (in the US). By comparing the median price, you can get a good idea of how many properties are available on either side of the spectrum (cheap vs expensive).

So, what’s the average price then?

2. The average price of a home in the US is approximately $362,700.

(Source: US Census Bureau)

When examining existing home sales, historical data shows that the average price of a home in the US has consistently been higher than the median price since modern record-keeping began, indicating that the amount of low-cost housing is more available than luxury housing. This trend is true for almost all countries across the globe as younger, working-class people make up the majority of the population in most countries.

 

3. NAR statistics entail a monthly survey that records between 30% to 40% of all house sales.

(Source: Mortgage News Daily)

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) collects data from multiple listing services, associations, and boards across the US and releases a monthly report covering up to 40% of all sales. The data covers all existing single-family homes in the country and breaks it down by regions — namely, West, South Midwest, and Northeast.

Overall, that covers a decent chunk of housing sales. Yet, just how many people own homes in the US?

4. In the fourth quarter of 2018, as many as 64.8% of US citizens owned a home of their own.

(Source: US Census Bureau)

This indicates a minor increase of 0.6% from the same period in 2017. The overall level of US house sales has been rising steadily almost annually since 2011. The real estate market tends to favor home sales during times of slow economic growth.

Who are all these homeowners though?

5. 78.5% of homeowners are aged 65+. 

(Source: US Census Bureau)

Older people are far more likely to be homeowners, with only 35.4% of US homeowners being under the age of 35. Recently, younger people have been taking longer to get on the property ladder as sales prices of homes have increased and student debt kept them from renting for longer. In addition, the housing market crash of 2008 resulted in many people defaulting on payments, making young buyers wary of entering the market.

Which brings us to this next stat:

6. 8.2% of homeowners in the US owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.

(Source: Zillow)

Many US homeowners are still reeling from the aftershocks of the 2008 housing market crash, with a Zillow existing home sales report showing that almost 1 in 10 are now “underwater” on their mortgage. Meaning, even if they somehow manage to sell their existing home for it’s going price, they would still end up losing money.

7. Exactly half of all buyers find their homes on the internet.

(Source: National Association of Realtors)

The internet continues to take over industries around the world, with only 28% of new homebuyers using a real estate agent these days, according to recent realtor statistics. Wealthier buyers usually prefer the time-saving advantages of getting an agent to do most of the leg work, yet a lot of young, first-time buyers will try to save money by going at it alone.

8. Over half (59%) of new buyers under the age of 29 don’t expect to be in their homes for more than 10 years. 

(Source: The Close)

Many new buyers are simply getting on the property ladder without any intention of staying in their first home long-term; more than half plan to sell within the first 10 years, recent US home sales data suggests. A further 28% of them plan on buying a new house within the next five years. For many who purchased their homes before 2008, the hopes of making a decent resale were dashed by the financial crisis and they are now stuck with an expensive mortgage.

However, there is some good news still:

9. The value of US homes has gone up 3.7% over the past year. 

(Source: Zillow)

Zillow predicts this will rise a further 2.8% next year, impacted by factors like foreclosure — when the bank forces the sale of a home to pay off all outstanding debts.

Existing Home Sales Data in the US

In general, stats can provide deep insight into an industry, yet hard data can often provide more exact figures. Let’s take a look at some data concerning the sale of existing homes in the US.

10. Throughout 2018, sales fell from 5,600,000 homes to just 4,900,000.

(Source: The Close)

Although the decline, the trend began picking up steam again in March 2019 when sales climbed back to 5,200,000.

Speaking of which…

11. Last year, approximately 5.25 million existing homes were sold in the US.

(Source: National Association of Realtors)

This is a slight decrease from the 5.34 million sales made in 2018, according to NAR. Existing homes sales from 2017 show an even wider gap with some 5.51 million homes being sold. Despite this, it is estimated that a market turnaround will result in the sale of around 5.46 million existing homes in 2020.

Meaning…

12. Sales of existing homes increased by 3.6% at the end of 2019 in the US.

(Source: Trading Economics)

The sales of existing homes in the US increased unexpectedly in December 2019 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate, which was 1.3% above market expectations, according to Trading Economics’ existing home sales chart.

13. The year 2008 marked the lowest point (of this century) when it comes to existing property sales at only 4.12 million.

(Source: Statista)

The financial crash of 2008 hit the property market hard, resulting in a huge drop in property sales, plummeting from 7.08 million back in 2005 to only 4.12 million in 2008. It took almost five years for the property market to recover. However, sales are yet to reach the highs of 2005.

Existing Home Sales  Statistics by State and Region 

It’s time to check out the current shape of the existing home sales market in various parts of the US — both state and region-wide. The following stats reveal exactly which areas are driving market growth and which ones are having trouble climbing the property ladder.

14. On a state level, there were 13 states that reached new heights in terms of existing home sales in Q1 2019. 

(Source: Seeking Alpha)

According to US existing home sales per state, Washington had the strongest real estate market in 2019. Looking at the aggregate sales of existing homes in this area, the state saw an upward trend from February to March 2019 since a 16% drop back in 2018. Other states with a noticeably similar trend include Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia.

15. California made a comeback in the residential estate market with over $22 billion aggregate home sales in July 2019.  

(Source: Seeking Alpha)

As revealed by the existing home sales chart, California hit rock bottom between December 2018 and January 2019. The state recovered in July and lower mortgage rates were considered a key factor in achieving this trend. Nevertheless, California is still far from breaking its March 2018 home sales record.

Meanwhile, the opposite can be said for Florida. The Sunshine State enjoyed a slow, yet steady, upward trend since March 2018 but then its home sales took a dip in the following months, coming back up in July of the same year.

16. Phoenix, Arizona, saw the highest house price increase (5.38%) during the second quarter of 2019. 

(Source: GlobalPropertyGuide)

Phoenix is but one of 20 major US cities that experienced minimal to moderate housing price hikes. For newly constructed homes, the median value is around $335,400 as revealed by the 2019 new home sales report. Existing homes’ value is almost 40% lower than this — a piece of good news at any rate.

17. At a regional level, the American South reached 2.4 million sales in January 2020 alone.  

(Source: Mortgage News Daily)

As such, this region is the top market contributor followed by the Midwest with 1.30 million sales. Northeast remains at the bottom of the list with 730,000 home sales — up from 740,000 back in December 2019.

New Home Sales — The Latest Data

So, what’s been happening in the housing market lately? Let’s take a quick glance at the most recent statistics and find out!

18. 667,000 newly constructed homes were sold in 2018.

(Source: US Census Bureau)

Newly constructed homes are generally not included in homeowner stats and, as such, represent the discrepancy between existing and overall home sales data.

Overall, 2018 was a good year for the sale of new homes. Yet, as all good things must come to an end, this trend hit a brick wall in 2019 — which is highlighted in our next stat:

19. Recent sales of new homes in the US decreased by 0.4% from November to December 2019.

(Source: Trading Economics)

In their new home sales report, Trading Economics reveals that there has been a slight decrease in the number of sales of new homes, which is to be expected as the price of real estate increases.

20. In 2019, 98% of final prices matched the initial asking price of a new property (on average).

(Source: Redfin)

When looking at the figures from last year, almost every sale managed to match or beat the asking price. The best day of the week, when new home sale prices are concerned, is Thursday, with Monday being the worst day.

Bottom Line

While statistics are essential for getting a better understanding of the overall health of the property market, they need to be used in conjunction with several other data sources to get the full scope of the housing situation in the US. Moreover, a strong economy drives the construction of new homes, as recent housing sales suggest.

What’s more, during these (financially) good times, there’s an excess of wealthy buyers who seek to build homes of their own which, in the long run, can spell disaster for many an existing home as they are left unsold. However, fluctuating property markets, foreclosure rates, and the current economic situation all have a mitigating effect on housing prices in the long-run.

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