The rate of existing-home sales climbed 7.6 percent in August from a record low in July, to 4.13 million. Despite the monthly gain, the August sales rate was the second lowest in at least 15 years, the National Association of Realtors reported, down 19 percent from its August 2009 level.

The median price for resale homes — including single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops — rose 0.8 percent year-over-year in August, to $178,600, NAR also reported.

The median price of single-family resale homes climbed 1.2 percent and the median price of resale condos and co-ops dropped 2.8 percent year-over-year in August.

The inventory of resale homes for sale dropped slightly (0.6 percent) compared to July while rising 1.5 percent compared to August 2009, and the estimated 11.6-month supply of for-sale homes in August was down 7.2 percent compared to the July supply but up 26.1 percent compared to the August 2009 supply.

A supply of six months is considered to be a rough balance between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and Housing and Urban Development Department reported that the pace of new-home building permits dropped an estimated 6.7 percent while housing starts climbed 2.2 percent year-over-year in August.

The rate of single-family building-permit authorizations fell for the fifth straight month in August, according to that report.

Regionally, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing-home sales jumped 13.8 percent in the West, 7.9 percent in the Northeast, 5.2 percent in the South and 5 percent in the Midwest from July to August, while falling 26.3 percent in the Midwest, 24.4 percent in the Northeast, 16.1 percent in the West and 13.4 percent in the South compared to August 2009, NAR reported.

Existing-home sales rose 7.6 percent in the Northeast region year-over-year in August, and climbed 0.4 percent in the Midwest, but fell 1.5 percent in the South and dropped 2.5 percent in the West.

Single-family resale homes priced from $100,000 to $250,000 experienced the largest dip in the sales rate year-over-year in August, falling 23.8 percent.

That compares with a 14.7 percent drop among homes priced between $250,000-$500,000, a 7.5 percent drop among those priced at $100,000 or below, a 6.9 percent drop among those priced between $500,000-$750,000, an increase of 4.6 percent among homes priced between $750,000 to $1 million, and an 11.5 percent rise for homes prices at or above $1 million.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for typical seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

Sales of distressed homes accounted for an estimated 34 percent of sales in August, compared with 32 percent in July and 31 percent in August, according to NAR survey data.

NAR also offered local single-family existing-home sales and price data for a sampling of 19 U.S. metro areas. Among this list, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro had the sharpest drop in single-family existing-home sales year-over-year in August, down 34.2 percent, while San Diego, Calif., had the slightest sales decline, down 1 percent.

San Antonio, Texas, had the sharpest year-over-year increase in median single-family resale price in August, among the sample markets, up 7.5 percent, and Atlanta had the sharpest drop, down 14.3 percent.

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