Real estate sales continue rise in August

CHARTS: National median price drops 5.1%

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After a double-digit, year-over-year jump in sales in July, existing-home sales continued to post increases in August, according to the latest monthly report from the National Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops in August rose 18.6 percent from a year ago to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million. Sales also rose on a monthly basis, up 7.7 percent from an upwardly revised 4.67 million in July. Unsold inventory fell 3 percent in August to 3.58 million — an 8.5-month supply at the current sales pace.

"Some of the improvement in August may result from sales that were delayed in preceding months, but favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations," said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in a statement. "Investors were more active in absorbing foreclosed properties. In additional to bargain hunting, some investors are in the market to hedge against higher inflation."

Investors and first-time buyers accounted for 22 percent and 32 percent of purchases in August, respectively. Cash buyers, the bulk of which are investors, made up 29 percent of sales, up slightly from a year ago.

The national median existing-home price dropped 5.1 percent year over year in August, to $168,300. Distressed homes, typically sold at a discount, made up 31 percent of sales in August, down from 34 percent in August 2010.

Sales rose on an annual basis in all price ranges last month with homes under $100,000 seeing the biggest boost. Homes above $1 million also did fairly well with a sales jump of 12.3 percent — higher than that of homes between $500,000 and $750,000 as well as homes between $750,000 and $1 million.

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Homes $250,000 and under accounted for nearly 68 percent of all existing-home sales.

% Change in Sales from 1 Year Ago
Region $0-
100K
$100K-
250K
$250-500K $500K-
750K
$750K-
1M
$1M+
Northeast 16.6% 30.6% 12.0% 6.6% 17.8% 16.3%
Midwest 30.1% 34.3% 19.0% 11.5% 24.2% 12.7%
South 24.4% 22.0% 13.9% 8.1% 6.5% 20.0%
West 60.0% 21.2% 12.2% 3.2% -0.2% 7.2%
U.S. 32.4% 25.9% 13.5% 6.2% 8.4% 12.3%
             
Sales Distribution
Region $0-
100K
$100K-
250K
$250-
500K
$500-
750K
$750-
1M
$1M+
U.S. 24.5% 43.4% 22.6% 5.9% 1.8% 1.7%

Source: National Association of Realtors.

Among 18 metro areas tracked by NAR, all but three saw sales rise year over year in August. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., saw the biggest jump (44.1 percent), followed by Indianapolis (33.5 percent) and Portland, Ore. (33.3 percent).

Median prices fell year over year in all but five metros. Phoenix saw the biggest decline (11.6 percent to $121,700), followed by Portland (8.9 percent to $223,600). Only San Antonio saw its median price rise more than 1 percent.

August Metro Area Existing Single-Family Home Sales and Prices
*All data is unadjusted for seasonality
         
  Median Price % Change from 1 Year Ago  
MSA Aug-10 Aug-11 Price Sales
Atlanta $111,100 $103,300 -7.0% 26.2%
Baltimore $260,600 $241,900 -7.2% 14.0%
Boston $382,900 $367,000 -4.2% 20.8%
Cincinnati $129,900 $129,200 -0.5% 24.1%
Dallas-Fort Worth $153,800 $154,200 0.3% 29.1%
Houston $159,300 $159,500 0.1% 32.6%
Indianapolis $128,000 $128,200 0.2% 33.5%
Kansas City $138,400 $136,900 -1.1% 27.3%
Minneapolis-St. Paul $177,600 $159,400 -10.2% 44.1%
New Orleans $161,600 $146,700 -9.2% 13.3%
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island $411,800 $394,700 -4.2% 10.3%
Philadelphia $234,900 $225,800 -3.9% 21.9%
Phoenix $137,700 $121,700 -11.6% 23.5%
Portland $245,400 $223,600 -8.9% 33.3%
San Antonio $143,600 $148,700 3.6% 8.2%
San Diego $384,700 $369,400 -4.0% 5.8%
St. Louis $134,900 $132,700 -1.6% 20.7%
Washington, D.C. $345,500 $346,700 0.3% 6.4%
U.S. $178,100 $168,400 -5.4% 22.4%

Source: National Association of Realtors.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest saw the biggest year-over-year jump, rising 26.7 percent to an annual pace of 1.09 million. Sales rose 3.8 percent from July. The region’s median price fell 3.5 percent year over year to $141,700.

Sales in the West saw the second-biggest year-over-year increase in August, 20.6 percent, to a level of 1.23 million. The region also saw the biggest month-to-month jump, up 18.3 percent. The West’s median price fell 13 percent — the largest decline among the regions — to $189,400.

In the South, existing-home sales rose 16.9 percent year-over-year and 5.4 percent month-to-month to 1.94 million. The region’s median price remained nearly flat, declining 0.8 percent to $151,000.

The Northeast saw the smallest year-over-year and month-to-month increases among the regions in August, up 10 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, to 770,000. Yun attributed the relatively weaker sales at least in part to disruptions from Hurricane Irene. The region’s median price fell 5.1 percent last month to $244,100.

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