The flood of bad news on home sales took a breather in August as sales, inventories and prices all moved in the right direction, though all three metrics have a very long way to go to return to normal levels.
In fact, August was the second-worst month for sales in more than a decade, second only to July, the worst month for sales in 15 years.
Existing-home sales rose 7.6 percent in August after falling precipitously in July, and they are still 19 percent below the level of a year ago. Sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million in August from an upwardly revised 3.84 million in July, according to the National Association of Realtors’ report today.
Total housing inventory at the end of August fell slightly 0.6 percent to 3.98 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 11.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 12.5-month supply in July. A six month supply is generally considered normal.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $178,600 in August, up 0.8 percent from a year ago. Distressed homes rose to 34 percent of sales in August from 32 percent in July; they were 31 percent in August 2009.
A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 31 percent of homes in August, down from 38 percent in July. Investors rose to a 21 percent market share in August from 19 percent in July; the balance of purchases were by repeat buyers. All-cash sales slipped to 28 percent in August from 30 percent in July.
Also based on a survey of real estate practitioners, the Campbell index for first-time homebuyer traffic, issued earlier this month, also fell from 32.5 in July to 29.3 in August; this index had registered as high as 63.5 as recently as April. Current homeowner traffic in the Campbell index fell from 41.0 in July to 37.3 in August; this index had registered at 55.2 as recently as April.