Here’s Why Existing Home Sales Climbed in August

According to the National Association of Realtors, Existing Home Sales climbed in August despite ongoing tight credit and appraisal problems, and regional disruptions created by Hurricane Irene. Here’s your Cheat Sheet:

Sales: Came in at an annual rate of 5.03 million in August.

Month-over-Month Change: This is 7.7% above the upwardly revised 4.67 million in July 2011.

Year-over-Year Change: This is 18.6% above the 4.24 million pace in August 2010.

Prices: The national median existing-home price of $168,300 in August was down 5.1% from August 2010.

Inventory: Total housing inventory fell 3.0% to 3.58 million existing homes available for sale in August. This represents a supply of 8.5 months at the current sales rate, down from 9.5 months in July.

Noteworthy Stats: First-time buyers purchased 32% of homes in August, unchanged from July; they were 31% in August 2010. Investors accounted for 22% of purchase activity in August, up from 18% in July; they were 21% in August 2010. All-cash transactions accounted for 29% of sales in July, unchanged from July; they were 31% in August 2010. Investors account for the bulk of cash purchases.

Commentary: “Some of the improvement in August may result from sales that were delayed in preceding months, but favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Investors were more active in absorbing foreclosed properties. In additional to bargain hunting, some investors are in the market to hedge against higher inflation.”

More Details:

Single-family home sales rose 8.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million in August from 4.12 million in July, and are 20.2% above the 3.72 million pace in August 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $168,400 in August, which is 5.4% below a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 1.8% a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000 in August from 550,000 in July, and are 8.3% higher than the 517,000-unit level one year ago. The median existing condo price was $167,500 in August, down 3.3% from August 2010.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 2.7% to an annual pace of 770,000 in August and are 10.0% above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $244,100, which is 5.1% below August 2010.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 3.8% in August to a level of 1.09 million and are 26.7% above August 2010. The median price in the Midwest was $141,700, down 3.5% from a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 5.4% to an annual pace of 1.94 million in August and are 16.9% higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $151,000, which is 0.8% below August 2010.

Existing-home sales in the West jumped 18.3% to an annual pace of 1.23 million in August and are 20.6% higher than August 2010. The median price in the West was $189,400, down 13.0% from a year ago.