July Existing-Home Sales Show Gain
|August 25, 2008|
Existing-home sales rose in July to the highest level in five months, although sales have hovered in a relatively narrow range over the past 11 months, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate¹ of 5.00 million units in July from a downwardly revised level of 4.85 million in June, but are 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.”
The national median existing-home price3 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.
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 supply² 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 July 2007.
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¹The 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.
Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings. This differs 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 generally account for 85 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger sample – nearly 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
²Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982. Condos were tracked quarterly prior to 1999 when single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases (e.g., condos were 9.5 percent of transactions in 1998, 8.5 percent in 1990 and only 6.1 percent in 1982).
3The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to the 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 geographic composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if more data is received than was originally reported.
4Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price can be higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes.
Existing-home sales for August will be released September 24, and the next Forecast/Pending Home Sales Index is scheduled for September 9. For more information on data tables visit: http://www.realtor.org/research/research/ehsdata
Source: National Association Of Realtors