American 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, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops – increased 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.00 million units in July, 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 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 American median existing-home price for all housing types was $212,400 (£114,900) in July, down 7.1 percent from a year ago when the median was $228,600 (£123,700).
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 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.
Single-family home sales rose 3.1 percent from 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 (£114,100) in July, down 7.7 percent from July 2007.
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 (147,800), 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 (£150,800), 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 (£94,900), 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 (£97,000), down 3.5 percent from July 2007.
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