Washington, July 23, 2009
Existing-home sales rose for the third consecutive month with inventory easing and home prices declining less sharply in June, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised pace of 4.72 million in May, but are 0.2 percent lower than the 4.90 million-unit level in June 2008.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, is hopeful about the gain. “The increase in existing-home sales occurred in all major regions of the country,” he said. “We expect a gradual uptrend in sales to continue due to tax credit incentives and historically high affordability conditions. Despite the rise in closed transactions, many Realtors® are reporting lost sales as a result of new appraisal standards that went into effect May 1 of this year.”
A June survey of NAR members shows 37 percent experienced at least one lost sale as a result of the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct, with seven out of 10 reporting an increased use of out-of-area appraisers. Seventy percent of NAR appraiser members said consumers were paying higher fees, while 85 percent report a perceived reduction in appraisal quality.
“Clearly the process needs to be revised, but the most logical approach is to use appraisers with local expertise, industry designations and access to local data, who make a physical examination of the property and use apples-to-apples comparisons with nearby home sales,” Yun said. “In many cases, normal homes are being compared with distressed homes sold at a discount, which often are in subpar condition – this is causing real harm to both buyers and sellers.”
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.42 percent in June from 4.86 percent in May; the rate was 6.32 percent in June 2008. Mortgage interest rates have trended lower in recent weeks.
Total housing inventory at the end of June fell 0.7 percent to 3.82 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.4-month supply2 at the current sales pace, down from a 9.8-month supply in May. Raw inventory totals are 14.9 percent below a year ago.
“This is another hopeful sign – if we can keep the volume of sales above the level of new inventory, prices could stabilize in many areas around the end of the year,” Yun said.
An NAR practitioner survey in June showed first-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of transactions, unchanged from May, and that the number of buyers looking at homes is up nearly 12 percentage points from June 2008.
NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said there are very good opportunities. “Despite some of the challenges, the housing market continues to demonstrate signs of recovery,” he said. “The temporary first-time buyer tax credit is clearly helping people make a decision and is contributing to the overall stimulus impact, but since it’s taking longer to close transactions, many would-be beneficiaries may not be able to take advantage of the credit before the December 1 expiration date. As a consequence, consumers need the expertise of Realtors® more than ever to navigate both the obstacles and opportunities in today’s market.”
The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $181,800 in June, which is 15.4 percent below June 2008. Distressed properties, which accounted for 31 percent of sales in June, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.
Single-family home sales rose 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.32 million in June from a level of 4.22 million in May, and are 0.2 percent higher than the 4.31 million-unit pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $181,600 in June, which is 15.0 percent below June 2008.
Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 14.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 570,000 units in June from 500,000 in May, but are 3.1 percent below the 588,000-unit level in June 2008. The median existing condo price4 was $183,300 in June, down 18.9 percent from a year ago.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.5 percent to an annual pace of 820,000 in June, but are 4.7 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $249,400, down 5.9 percent from June 2008.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 0.9 percent in June to a level of 1.10 million but are 1.8 percent lower than June 2008. The median price in the Midwest was $157,000, which is 9.1 percent below a year ago.
In the South, existing-home sales rose 4.0 percent to an annual pace of 1.81 million in June but are 3.7 percent below a year ago. The median price in the South was $163,200, down 11.9 percent from June 2008.
Existing-home sales in the West improved by 6.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.16 million in June, and are 11.5 percent higher than June 2008. The median price in the West was $214,800, which is 24.9 percent below a year ago.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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NOTE: Any references to performance in states or metro areas are from unpublished raw data used to analyze regional trends; please contact your local association of Realtors® for more information.
1The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings. This differs from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which generally account for 85 to 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger sample – more than 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.
2Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982.
3The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to the seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if more data is received than was originally reported.
4Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price generally is higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes.
Existing-home sales for July will be released August 21. The next Pending Home Sales Index & Forecast is scheduled for August 4; release times are 10 a.m. EDT.
Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data in this release, other tables and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research.