August sales of U.S. homes dip, even with lower prices
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales in August fell 4.8% to 5.51 mln from a downwardly revised total of 5.58 mln in July.
Existing home sales have increased on a year-over-year basis for 11 consecutive months and are now 6.2% higher than in August 2014.
The consensus estimate called for sales to reach 5.5 mln, according to a survey of economists polled by Bloomberg.
Housing inventory increased by 1.3% in August to 2.29 mln homes, which is equal to a supply of 5.2 months, up from a 4.8-month supply in July and sharply above the total of 1.88 mln homes in inventory at the end of December 2014.
According to the NAR, the national median existing home price for all housing types in August was $228,700, up 4.7% compared with August 2014, the 42nd consecutive month of rising home prices. In July the national median price was $234,000.
NAR’s chief economist said: “Sales activity was down in many parts of the country last month — especially in the South and West — as the persistent summer theme of tight inventory levels likely deterred some buyers. The good news for the housing market is that price appreciation the last two months has started to moderate from the unhealthier rate of growth seen earlier this year.”
The percentage of first-time buyers bounced to 32% in August, up from 30% in July, matching the highest share of first-time buyers set in May. In August of 2014, firsttime buyers accounted for 29% of all sales.
Sales of single-family homes fell 5.3% from July at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.69 mln, up 6.1% compared with August a year ago. Sales of multifamily homes decreased by 1.6% year over year to an annual rate of 620,000 units.
Foreclosed and short sales accounted for 7% of August sales, down from 8% in August 2014. Foreclosures sold at an average 18% discount to the August median price, and short sales sold at a discount of 12%.
All homes were on the market for an average of 47 days in August, up from 42 days in July.
Foreclosed homes were on the market for an average of 66 days and short sales took a median of 124 days to sell. Non-distressed homes took 45 days to sell, and 40% of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month.
The NAR also regional data:
the Northeast remained unchanged at an annual rate of 700,000 and are now 6.1% above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $271,600, which is 2.4% higher than August 2014.
- In the Midwest, existing-home sales declined by 1.5% to an annual rate of 1.28 mln in August, but remain 5.8% above August 2014 sales. The median price in the Midwest was $181,100, up 4% from a year ago.
- Existing-home sales in the South dropped 6.6% to an annual rate of 2.14 mln in August and are now 5.9% above August 2014. The median price in the South was $196,300, up 6% from a year ago.
- Existing-home sales in the West tumbled 7.8% to an annual rate of 1.19 mln in August and remain 7.2% above a year ago. The median price in the West was $321,300, which is 7.1% above July 2014. (Source: 24/7 Wall St.com)