Home sales, prices post gainsby Marcie Geffner
That’s according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a Chicago-based trade group that represents 1 million realty brokers and salespeople.
More homes sold
Home sales hit an annualized and seasonally adjusted pace of 4.82 million units for the month, up 7.8 percent compared with 4.47 million in July and 9.3 percent compared with 4.41 million in August 2011, NAR said in a statement.
Annualized sales figures project totals for the entire year while seasonal adjustments account for variations in sales, but don’t compensate for abnormal weather patterns. The totals include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, but not newly constructed houses sold by builders.
Home prices rise
The national median price of homes sold climbed to $187,400 in August, up 9.5 percent compared with August 2011.
The median price is the midway point at which half of the homes sold at higher prices and half sold at lower prices. Median prices can be distorted by changes in the mix of homes sold.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun attributed the results to favorable home-buying factors. Homes today are more affordable due to low mortgage interest rates and depreciated values.
Fewer homes for sale
Housing markets are also strengthening due to fewer homes being for sale. NAR reported that 2.47 million existing homes were on the market at the end of August. That represented a 6.1-month supply at the then-current pace of sales, down 18.2 percent compared with the 8.2-month supply at the end of August 2011.
A six-month supply is generally viewed as a balanced market, favoring neither buyers nor sellers. However, local market conditions can and often do vary considerably from the national picture.
Other August statistics: First-time home buyers accounted for 31 percent of purchases, all-cash sales made up 27 percent of transactions, and investors, who account for most cash sales, purchased 18 percent of the homes sold.
Tight lending conditions
In a separate statement, NAR also said an additional 500,000 to 700,000 homes could be sold annually if mortgage lending standards were eased.
A survey of Realtors found widespread concern over what NAR characterized as “unreasonably” tight credit for residential mortgages. Realtors said lenders required excessive information from borrowers and took too long to approve loan applications.