Total existing-home sales, which include single-family and condos, set a new record in the second quarter, with 42 states showing higher sales than in second-quarter 2004, the National Association of Realtors trade group reported today.

In the latest report on total existing-home sales, the national seasonally adjusted annual rate was 7.22 million units in the second quarter, up 4.6 percent from the previous record of 6.9 million in second-quarter 2004. Total home sales include single family, town homes, condominiums and co-operative housing.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate for a particular quarter represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative sales pace for that quarter was maintained for four consecutive quarters, the association noted.

NAR began tracking the state sales series in 1981. Seasonally adjusted rates are used in reporting quarterly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, sales volume normally is higher in the summer and relatively light in winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and household buying patterns.

The strongest sales increase was in West Virginia, where the second-quarter level of sales activity rose 21.7 percent from second-quarter 2004 to second-quarter 2005. Washington existing-home sales increased 19.8 percent from a year earlier, and Vermont was up by 19.6 percent. At the same time, seven other states recorded double-digit increases. Five states and Washington, D.C., posted declines but remained historically strong, one was unchanged and complete data was not available for two states, the association reported.

Sales in Washington, D.C., dropped 9.2 percent from second-quarter 2004 to second-quarter 2005, and sales in Alaska dropped 5.3 percent in that time. Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and New Jersey saw home sales drop less than 1 percent.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said, “Record home sales are creating high demand for related goods and services, and they’re creating new jobs. In fact, the overall housing sector accounts for about a quarter of total economic activity. In addition, the growth in housing wealth is feeding into consumer spending, which is helping other segments of the economy.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was 5.72 percent in the second quarter, down from 5.76 percent in the first quarter. It was 6.13 percent in the second quarter of 2004.

Regionally, the Northeast reported the strongest annual increase, where the second-quarter existing-home sales rate of 1.21 million units rose 7.5 percent from the second quarter of 2004. After Vermont, Connecticut experienced the strongest increase in the region with sales activity 14.7 percent above a year ago, while New York resales increased 6.8 percent.

The South recorded an existing-home sales pace of 2.73 million units in the second quarter, up 6.3 percent from a year earlier. After West Virginia, the strongest increase in the South was in Arkansas, up 15.8 percent from the second quarter of 2004, followed by South Carolina, where existing-home sales rose 14.4 percent, and Alabama, which increased 14 percent.

In the West, existing home sales rose 1.8 percent to 1.66 million units in the second quarter from the same period in 2004. After Washington, the next highest increase in the region was in Montana, where total existing-home sales rose 13.9 percent compared with a year earlier; Wyoming sales activity was up by 13.7 percent, while Utah increased 9.7 percent.

In the Midwest, total existing-home sales in the second quarter increased 1.6 percent to a 1.62 million-unit annual pace in comparison with a year ago. North Dakota led the region, up 7.5 percent from the second quarter of last year, followed by Iowa, posting a 6.2 percent gain, and Indiana, with an increase of 6.1 percent.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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