Existing home sales rose 9.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million in August from the 4.41 million seen a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. The figure is 7.8% above July’s 4.47 million.
The national median home price rose on a year-over-year basis for the sixth straight month. The median price for all housing types totaled $187,400 in August, up 9.5% from a year ago. The last time there were six back-to-back monthly price increases from a year earlier was from December 2005 to May 2006.
The August increase is the strongest since January 2006 when the median price rose 10.2% from a year earlier.
Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, points to favorable buying conditions.
"The housing market is steadily recovering with consistent increases in both home sales and median prices," Yun said. "More buyers are taking advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions. Inventories in many parts of the country are broadly balanced, favoring neither sellers nor buyers. However, the West and Florida markets are experiencing inventory shortages, which are placing pressure on prices."
Distressed homes accounted for 22% of August sales — 12% were foreclosures and 10% were short sales — down from 24% in July and 31% in August 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 19% below market value in August, while short sales were discounted 13%, NAR says.
Total housing inventory at the end August rose 2.9% to 2.47 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 6.4-month supply in July. Listed inventory is 18.2% below a year ago when there was an 8.2-month supply.
The median time on market was 70 days in August, NAR found, consistent with 69 days in July but down 23.9% from 92 days in August 2011. Thirty-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month, while 19% were on the market for six months or longer.
NAR President Moe Veissi says some buyers are involuntarily sidelined.
"Total sales this year will be 8% to 10% above 2011, but some buyers are frustrated with mortgage availability,” Veissi asserted. “If most of the financially qualified buyers could obtain financing, home sales would be about 10% to 15% stronger, and the related economic activity would create several hundred thousand jobs over the period of a year."