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Home-price growth in August slows in 18 of 20 largest housing markets

Affordable home sales slide while home sales over $500K skyrocket

Home-price growth is slowing even as the sales of homes under $200,000 slip and the share of home sales above the $500,000 price point grow, according to the August home report from RealtyTrac.

Residential properties, including single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes, sold at an estimated annual pace of 4,508,559 in August, down one-half% from the previous month and down 16% from a year ago — the fourth consecutive month where annualized sales volume has decreased on a year-over-year basis.

The median price of U.S. residential properties sold in August — including both distressed and non-distressed sales — was $195,000, up 3% from the previous month, and up 15% from a year ago to the highest level since August 2008, a six-year high.

“Higher-end properties are taking up a bigger share of a smaller home sales pie, boosting the median home price nationwide higher even as home price appreciation slows to single digits in many of last year’s red-hot local housing markets,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “On the other hand, markets where large institutional investors and other buyers have not picked clean lower-priced inventory are continuing to see strong, double-digit increases in median home prices.”

The share of sales in the $200,000-and-below price range was down 9% from a year ago, while the share of sales in the above-$200,000 price range increased 10% from a year ago.

Breaking down the above-$200,000 price range further, the share of sales in the $500,000-to-$1 million price range increased 18% from a year ago while the share of sales in the over-$1 million price range increased 38% from a year ago. Overall the share of sales above $500,000 increased 23% from a year ago.

“Housing sales in Seattle continue to be very healthy across the board, but one area in particular that has shown strong growth this year is the luxury market,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. “In August, homes priced above $2 million saw a 38% increase in sales compared to a year ago.  I attribute this to Seattle’s economic boom, which is attracting an increasing number of high-paying, executive-level professionals as well as international interest from buyers who are competing for multi-million dollar homes.”

Among 197 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more and with sufficient sales data, 124 (63%) saw lower annual home price appreciation in August 2014 compared to August 2013.

Home price appreciation slowed in 36 of the nation’s 50 largest markets (72%) and in 18 of the nation’s 20 largest markets (90%).

Major markets with decelerating home price appreciation in August 2014 compared to a year ago included San Francisco (9% annual appreciation in August compared to 37% a year ago); Los Angeles (7% annual appreciation in August compared to 27% a year ago); Phoenix (6% annual appreciation in August compared to 25% a year ago); Atlanta (10% annual appreciation in August compared to 28% a year ago); and Las Vegas (8% annual appreciation in August compared to 26% a year ago).

“We continue to see the traditional housing cycle this year with most of the price appreciation happening in the spring and early summer months,” said Chris Pollinger, senior vice president of sales at First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market. “Inventory in the Southern California coastal markets has become far more balanced, giving buyers a good level of choice and a moderate amount of negotiating room.”

Markets with accelerating appreciation and hitting new home price peaks

Major markets where home price appreciation in August was still accelerating compared to a year ago included Cincinnati (22% annual appreciation in August compared to 4% depreciation a year ago); Cleveland (23% annual appreciation in August compared to 1% a year ago); Miami (20% annual appreciation in August compared to 15% a year ago); Pittsburgh (7% annual appreciation in August compared to 3% a year ago); and Seattle (8% annual appreciation in August compared to 7% a year ago).

Out of the 197 major markets, 22 (11%) reached new median home price peaks in August, including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Columbus, Charlotte, and Austin, Texas.

“The Ohio markets continue to experience an increase in overall pricing, but a noticeable decline in total units sold,” said Michael Mahon, executive vice president/broker at HER Realtors, covering the Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio markets. “The declining year-over-year sales unit numbers can be attributed to the lack of available inventory, particularly within the first-time home buyer price range. As cash sales continue to decline within the Ohio markets, the available inventory is continuing to experience improvement, which shows further stability and growth of the Ohio housing stock.”

Short sales and distressed sales account for 13.5% of all residential sales

The median price of U.S. distressed sales — properties in the foreclosure process or bank-owned — was $129,000 in August, up 2% from the previous month and up 15% from a year ago, but still 37% below the median price of non-distressed sales: $205,000.

Short sales and distressed sales (properties in some stage of foreclosure or bank-owned when sold) accounted for 13.5% of all U.S. residential property sales in August, up from 10.7% in the previous month but still down from 14.3% in August 2013.

Markets with the highest share of combined short sales and distressed sales in August were Modesto, Calif., (36.1%), Lakeland, Fla. (35.9%), Stockton, Calif., (33.4%), Las Vegas (33.2%), and Orlando (29.3%).

Short sales accounted for 4.6% of all sales, while bank-owned (REO) sales accounted for 7.8% of all sales and sales at the foreclosure auction accounted for 1.0% of all sales — and the share of sales was down compared to a year ago for all three of these categories of sales.

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