US Property Sales Up Across Country

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that residential real estate sales showed positive gains in every U.S. state in the third quarter of 2011 when compared to …

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that residential real estate sales showed positive gains in every U.S. state in the third quarter of 2011 when compared to last year. NAR execs are not surprised with the sales gains, noting that conditions are favorable for even more sales in a market filled with bargain prices and low interest rates. Confidence remains low and lending restrictions are tight, however, which is attracting more cash buyers keen on acquiring investment property while discouraging first-time homebuyers. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.

Sales of residential property in the United States have risen in every state in the third quarter of 2011 compared with the previous year, the latest data from the National Association of Realtors.

It also shows that Metro area median existing home prices in the third quarter generally were down from a year ago. However, the median existing single family home price rose in 39 out of 150 metropolitan statistical areas while 111 areas showed price declines. In the second quarter, 41 metro areas had posted annual price gains.

‘Home sales need to recover first, only then can prices stabilize. Existing home sales are little changed from the second quarter but are notably higher than a year ago. The good news is inventory levels have been trending gradually down,’ said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Total state existing home sales, including single-family and condos, slipped 0.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.880 million in the third quarter from 4.883 million in the second quarter, but were 17% higher than the 4.170 million pace during the third quarter of 2010. Every state and the District of Columbia saw sales rise from a year ago, with 45 states posting double digit gains.

The national median existing single family home price was $169,500 in the third quarter, down 4.7% from $177,800 in the third quarter of 2010. The median is where half sold for more and half sold for less. Distressed homes, typically sold at a discount of about 20%, accounted for 30% of third quarter sales, compared with 33% in the second quarter and 34% a year ago.

Median price measurement reflects the types of homes that are selling during the quarter and can be misleading at times because the level of foreclosures, which artificially depress median prices, can vary notably in given markets. Annual price measures generally smooth out any quarterly swings.

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NAR president Ron Phipps said home sales should be notably higher given the buying power in today’s market. ‘Housing affordability conditions have been at a record high this year, rents are rising and homes are selling for less than the cost of construction in most of the country,’ he explained.

‘For people with secure jobs, good credit and long term plans, today’s conditions will be remembered as a golden opportunity to enter the housing market,’ Phipps added.

NAR’s Housing Affordability Index stood at 183.8 in the third quarter, the second highest on record after the first quarter of 2011. The index measures the relationship between median home price, median family income and mortgage interest rates; the higher the index, the greater household purchasing power. Recordkeeping began in 1970.

Yun pointed our that it is tough to get a mortgage given the unnecessarily restrictive underwriting standards and as a result investors are taking advantage of current conditions and paying cash for undervalued homes. ‘In many cases they’re renovating or repairing these homes to hold as rentals or resell at a profit,’ he said.

The share of all cash home purchases was 29% in the third quarter, little changed from 30% in the second quarter and 29% in the third quarter of 2010. Investors, who make up the bulk of cash purchasers, accounted for 20% of transactions in the third quarter compared with 19% in the second quarter and 19% a year ago.

First time buyers purchased 32% of homes, down from 35% in the second quarter and 34% a year ago. Historically, entry level buyers account for four out of 10 home purchases.

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices, covering changes in 54 metro areas, showed the national median existing condo price was $167,600 in the third quarter, down 2.2% from the third quarter of 2010. Twelve metros showed increases in the median condo price from a year ago and 42 areas had declines.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 0.9% in the third quarter to a level of 770,000 and are 11.6% above the third quarter of 2010. The median existing single family home price in the Northeast fell 6.5% to $236,700 in the third quarter from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 2.5% in the third quarter to a pace of 1.08 million and are 25.1% higher than a year ago. The median existing single family home price in the Midwest declined 2.2% to $142,300 in the third quarter from the same quarter in 2010.

Existing home sales in the South were unchanged in the third quarter at an annual rate of 1.89 million and are 15.5% above the third quarter of 2010. The median existing single family home price in the South was $153,200 in the third quarter, down 2.2% from a year earlier.

Existing home sales in the West declined 2.6% in the third quarter to a level of 1.14 million but are 16.7% higher than a year ago. The median existing single family home price in the West dropped 9% to $205,700 in the third quarter from the same quarter of 2010.

‘Western home sales are dominated by cash investors in the lower price ranges,’ Yun explained.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.

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