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AUGUST HOME SALES SOAR AS CONSUMERS SNAP UP LOW RATES

 WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Sales of previously owned homes jumped in August from one year earlier, as consumers continued a crush of buying triggered by extremely low mortgage rates, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
 The association recorded a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate(A) of 3.81 million existing single-family homes in August, up 14.1 percent from August 1992. Last month's resale rate increase came on the heels of a 14.8 percent increase in July. Strong year-to-year increases in home sales were posted in all of the regions.
 NAR President William S. Chee said low mortgage rates, combined with improved economic conditions, have kept buyers in the market. "This summer was very busy in markets across the nation. Buyers are out in force, and we have not yet seen any signs that activity is cooling off," Chee said.
 Although the trade-up market was active, purchases by first-time buyers continued to dominate many markets, Chee noted.
 Low mortgage rates have made home ownership very affordable. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reported that the national average commitment rate for 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgages reached 7.11 percent in August, the lowest monthly rate ever recorded by the corporation. The August rate fell from 7.21 percent in July, and from 7.98 percent in August 1992.
 Last month's national median existing single-family home price was $109,200, which was 4.0 percent higher than one year earlier, when the price was $105,000. The median is the midpoint in the price range -- half the homes sold cost more, half cost less. The year-to-year price increase reflects steady demand, Chee said.
 Through August, there were 2.36 million existing single-family homes sold nationwide. The year-to-date total was 6.1 percent higher than that for the first eight months of 1992. "The market is in better shape now than it was at this time last year," Chee said.
 On a regional basis the largest year-to-year increase in resales was posted in the South. In that region, the existing-home sales rate was 1.42 million units in August, jumping 15.4 percent from the August 1992 pace. The South's median price was $98,300 last month, up 3.3 percent from one year earlier.
 The heavy river flooding that occurred earlier in the Midwest did not appear to hamper sales in August. The resale rate there was 960,000 units last month, which was up 11.6 percent from one year earlier. The median existing-home price in the Midwest was $86,400, up 4.9 percent from July 1992.
 The West also recorded a surge in resale activity. Existing homes there sold at a rate of 820,000 units in August, up 12.3 percent from August 1992. The median price in the West was $142,700, up 3.0 percent from one year earlier.
 In the Northeast, the pace for August was 600,000 units, up 13.2 percent from August 1992. The median price for existing single- family homes in the Northeast was $141,300 last month, slipping a marginal 0.5 percent from one year earlier.
 According to NAR Chief Economist John A. Tuccillo, much of the activity in the Northeast continues to fall in the lower end of the price range. "The market in the Northeast has turned the corner. But, there still are bargains to be found," he said.
 Tuccillo noted that this year likely will be "exceptional" for home sales. "We expect the strong showing to continue," he said. Currently, NAR is predicting existing single-family home sales to total 3.675 million units this year, representing a 4.4 percent increase from the 1992 total. The median price for existing single-family homes is expected to be $106,500, rising 2.7 percent above the price for last year.
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
 (A) The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume normally is higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather.
 -0- 9/27/93
 /CONTACT: Trisha Morris, 202-383-7560; Cheryl Spector, 202-383-1289; or Walter Molony, 202-383-1177, all of the National Association of Realtors/


CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: CST SU: ECO

IH-DC -- DC002 -- 5787 09/27/93 08:44 EDT
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Date:Sep 27, 1993
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