Existing Home Sales Increase

The most recent monthly data from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) shows that sales for existing homes increased in August reaching the highest level in six-and-a-half years. 

The NAR also reported that median homes prices have now had double-digit year-over-year increases for nine consecutive months.

Total existing-home sales, which the NAR says are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in August.  The figures for August increased from 5.39 million units in July, and are 13.2 percent higher than the 4.84 million-unit level in August of last year.

Last months sales were the highest since February 2007, when they hit 5.79 million.  Existing-home sales have remained above year-ago levels for the past 26 months.

The median existing-home price nationally for all types of housing was $212,100 in August, increasing 14.7 percent from August 2012. This is the strongest year-over-year price gain since October 2005 when the median price rose 16.6 percent, it also marks 18 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases.

Distressed homes, which include foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 12 percent of overall August sales; this is down from 15 percent in July, and is the lowest share since monthly tracking began in October 2008.  Distressed-home sales were 23 percent in August of last year. Ongoing declines in the share of distressed sales are considered a good sign for the market.

Unfortunately first-time buyers continue to decline as a share of the overall number of home purchasers.   First-time buyers accounted for only 28 percent of purchases in August, down from 29 percent in July and 31 percent in August 2012.  In a normal market, first-time buyers account for around 40 percent of home purchases.

When total existing-home sales data is broken down it reveals that single-family home sales rose 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million in August up from 4.76 million in July.  These sales were 12.8 percent above the 4.29 million-unit pace in August 2012.

The same data shows that existing condominium and co-op sales rose 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000 units in August up from 630,000 in July, and are 16.4 percent above the 550,000-unit level a year ago.