Property sales up as US house prices fall

Increase in property sales

Residential property sales in the United States are experiencing the equivalent of an Indian summer with transactions increasing as prices fall.

Both nationwide indices and state wide figures from real estate agents indicate that many parts of the country are seeing an increase in sales.

August home sales were 18% higher than a year ago, according to the latest national housing report from real estate agent network RE/MAX. Normally, June is the highest sales month for homes. This year both July and August show higher numbers.

‘We’re pleased to see transactions pushing higher in August and without any artificial stimulus. Although the housing recovery will continue to be uneven, the market is struggling to return to normal despite uncertainty in the economy and stubborn unemployment rates,’ said Margaret Kelly, RE/MAX chief executive officer.

The median sales price for August was $189,831, 0.6% below the price in July and 3.6% below the price in August 2010.

The report shows that in the 53 metro areas surveyed, 47 experienced a rise in home sales from 2010. The top increases were in Pittsburgh, up 60%, Minneapolis, up 48.4%, Albuquerque, up 43.0%, Milwaukee, up 37.1%, Seattle, up 29.4%, Phoenix, up 26.4% and Chicago, up 25.7%.

State wide figures are also showing increased sales. The latest from the California Association of Realtors show an increase from both the previous month and previous year, while the median home price rose to its highest level this year.

Sales of existing, single family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted 497,390 units in August, up 8.6% from a revised 457,930 in July and up 10.2% from a year ago, according to CAR, which gets its data from more than 90 local real estate associations and multiple listing services statewide.

‘August median price marked the highest since December 2010, signifying that prices may be stabilizing in some market segments, as investors and first time buyers continue to see value and opportunity in the market,’ said CAR President Beth Peerce.

The August statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California was $297,060, up 1% from a revised $294,050 in July, but down 7.4% from the $320,860 median price for August 2010.

Residential property prices in Orlando, Florida, a favourite location for overseas buyers, have increased 15.1% in the last 12 months, according to figures from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association which also indicate that the increase in prices has been strong in the first half of this year. They have increased 21.2% since January.

Foreclosures and short sales are making up a shrinking share of local home sales and Orlando metro area’s median price for August was $115,000.

‘A steady rise in the percentage of normal sales, those that are neither bank owned nor short sales, continues to boost the overall price,’ said the report.

Those normal transactions made up 41% of sales in August, down 1% from July. That was the first decline in such sales after they rose for six consecutive months.

Affordability numbers suggest the Orlando market still has a large amount of untapped demand. The area’s affordability index rose to 248 in August, showing median income earners make more than twice as much as they need to in order to qualify for a median priced home.

‘Affordability conditions this year have been enormously favourable, but many buyers are being held back because banks are offering financing to only the most highly qualified borrowers and ignoring a large share of otherwise creditworthy buyers,’ said the association.

‘Those potential buyers represent the difference between an uneven recovery and a much more robust housing market that in Orlando and even on a national scale could stimulate additional economic activity and create jobs,’ it added.

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