Real Estate

Housing is still looking up

RealtyTrac report suggests ongoing improvement

The housing market remains in recovery mode with home sales up and prices still on the rise, RealtyTrac reported in its August Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report.

U.S. residential properties sold at an estimated annualized pace of 5.6 million in August, up 2% from the 5.5 million pace set in July and up 12% from the 5 million pace set the previous August.

The median sales price in August increased slightly to $175,000, a 3% increase from July and a 6% improvement from a year earlier. August marks the 17th consecutive month where median home prices improved year-over-year.

The median price for distressed residential properties inched up 1% to $116,000 on a monthly basis, but fell 3% year-over-year. This marks the sixth consecutive month, including August, in which median distressed prices have fallen.

According to RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist, it took several years for U.S. home prices to stabilize. August home prices are up 23% from the bottom of the pit in March 2012, but still 26% below the peak of the housing price bubble in August 2006.

"This recovery in home prices and sale volume continues to be driven in large part by cash buyers and institutional investors, as evidenced by the increasing share of sales represented by those two categories in August,” said Blomquist.

All-cash purchases made up 45% of total residential sales in August, an increase from the 30% in July and up 30% from a year ago. This is an indicator that institutional investors are still on the prowl for homes priced at attractive values.

In fact, institutional investors — those who have purchased 10 or more properties in the last 12 months — totaled 10% of all sales in August, up from 9% in July and 9% in August 2012.

The number of short sales and bank-owned homes nationwide increased slightly in August, both up 1% month-over-month.

Experts throughout the country seem positive when sharing the outlook for their respective markets.

"The continuous rise in interest rates has had an effect on the housing market with refinancing slowing as it typically does when rates go up. However, we are experiencing a great period of growth and stability in Tennessee," said Bob Parks, CEO of Bob Parks Realty.

"The Northern Utah area is experiencing a much healthier housing market overall, but the levels of demand and the amount of available inventory continue to be out of balance," said Steve Roney, CEO of Prudential Utah Real Estate.

"The Tulsa metro area has picked up as evidence by the increasing amount of open house traffic, while the Oklahoma City market has slowed," said Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Prudential Alliance Realty.

"The rise in cash sales in the San Francisco market is due to the overall health of the Northern California economy. Investors and homebuyers are making cash purchases to be competitive in the buying process and to circumvent the hassles and extra costs of financing,” said Gretchen Pearson, president of Prudential California Realty, San Ramon. "We are seeing a normalizing of the market as home price appreciation continues to increase."

"The Portland metro area is experiencing uncharacteristically high bank-owned home sales and short sales due to state laws that affected the foreclosure process," said Brian Allen, president and owner of Windermere Cronin & Caplan Realty Group, Inc.

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