Existing home sales hit highest level in six years

by MPA20 Sep 2013

Sales of existing homes spiked in August, reaching their highest level in more than 6 years, according to data released today by the National Association of Realtors. Median home price also rose, making August the ninth consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year increases.

Sales of existing homes rose 1.7% last month, hitting a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million, according to the NAR figures. That’s up from 5.39 million in July and 4.84 million in August of 2012. Sales in August hit the highest rate since February of 2007, according to NAR.

However, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun warned that the peak could be temporary.

“Rising mortgage interest rates pushed more buyers to close deals, but monthly sales are likely to be uneven in the months ahead from several market frictions,” he said. “Tight inventory is limiting choices in many areas, higher mortgage interest rates mean affordability isn’t as favorable as it was, and restrictive mortgage lending standards are keeping some otherwise qualified buyers from completing a purchase.”

Total housing inventory at the end of August was 2.25 million existing homes – a 4.9-month supply at the current sales pace, NAR reported. That’s 6.3% below inventory a year ago, when there was a 6-month supply.

“Limited inventory in some areas means multiple bidding remains a factor,” Yun said. “Seventeen percent of all homes sold above the asking price in August, although 63% sold below list price.”

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