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Home Sales Hit 5-Month High

August 29, 2008

Existing-Home Sales Hit 5-Month High

Existing-home sales rose in July to the highest level in five months, although they continue to be well below the numbers from last year at this time, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 3.1 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 million units from a downwardly revised level of 4.85 million in June. Sales were 13.2 percent lower than the 5.76 million-unit pace in July 2007.

NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif., said the up-and-down pattern may break soon.

“We hope the new tools in the hands of home buyers from the recently enacted housing stimulus package will spark a sustained sales uptrend in the months ahead,” he said. “Buyers who’ve been on the sidelines should take a closer look at what’s available to them now in terms of financing and incentives. Given some of the inventory on the market, we also strongly encourage buyers to get a professional home inspection.”

Median Price Down 7.1% from Year Ago

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $212,400 in July, down 7.1 percent from a year ago when the median was $228,600.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home prices in some regions could soon increase.

“Sales have picked up significantly in several Florida and California markets. Home prices generally follow sales trends after a few months of lag time,” he said. “Still, inventory remains high in many parts of the country and will require time to fully absorb. We expect more balanced conditions in 2009 and will eventually return to normal long-term appreciation patterns.”

Analysis of NAR price data since 1968 shows home prices normally rise 1 to 2 percentage points above the overall rate of inflation, building wealth over the typical period of homeownership.

11-Month Supply of Homes for Sale

Total housing inventory at the end of July rose 3.9 percent to 4.67 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 11.2.-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 11.1-month supply in June. The rise in supply results from a sharp increase in condo inventory; the single family supply declined.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 6.43 percent in July from 6.32 percent in June; the rate was 6.70 percent in July 2007.

Single-family home sales rose 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.39 million in July from 4.26 million in June, but are 12.4 percent below the 5.01 million-unit level a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $210,900 in July, down 7.7 percent from July 2007.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in July from 590,000 in June, but are 18.6 percent below the 749,000-unit pace in July 2007. The median existing condo price4 was $223,400 in July, which is 2.7 percent below a year ago.

In Detail: Regional Sales, Prices

West. Regionally, existing-home sales in the West jumped 9.7 percent in July to a level of 1.13 million and are 0.9 percent higher than July 2007. The median price in the West was $273,200, down 22.2 percent from a year ago.

Northeast. In the Northeast, existing-home sales rose 5.9 percent to an annual pace of 900,000 in July, but are 11.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $278,700, which is 4.9 percent lower than July 2007.

Midwest. Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.12 million in July, but are 17.0 percent lower than July 2007. The median price in the Midwest was $175,400, up 1.0 percent from a year ago.

South. In the South, existing-home sales slipped 0.5 percent to an annual pace of 1.85 million in July, and are 18.1 percent below a year ago. The median price in the South was $179,300, down 3.5 percent from June 2007.

— NAR

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