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HOME SALES STRONG DURING FIRST HALF OF 1992, NAR REPORTS

 HOME SALES STRONG DURING FIRST HALF OF 1992, NAR REPORTS
 WASHINGTON, July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Sales of previously owned homes were notably higher in the first half of 1992 than during the same period for 1991, according to the National Association of Realtors.
 The association recorded that existing-home sales totalled 1,703,000 units between January and June, which was 6.2 percent higher than the total of 1,604,000 units for the first six months of last year. The steady activity contradicts persistently gloomy economic news, and indicates that consumers are taking advantage of low mortgage interest rates, said NAR President Dorcas T. Helfant. "The market is in good shape. Low rates have kept sales consistent," she said. "More and more buyers are deciding that now is the time to make a move."
 The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reported that the national average commitment rate for 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgages was 8.51 percent in June. During the first half of this year, rates started off at an average of 8.43 percent in January, then inched upward to peak at 8.94 percent in March, then steadily declined. Mortgage rates have generally remained at least 1 percentage point lower than during the same time last year.
 "Anyone thinking of buying should get out and take a look at what's available. In markets across the nation, there is a wide selection of homes in a broad price range. People who want to buy, but think they can't, could be surprised at how much they can afford," Helfant said.
 The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate(A) for existing single- family homes was 3.36 million units in June, down 3.4 percent from June 1991, when the resale rate was 3.48 million units. Helfant said the year-to-year drop primarily was due to extremely heavy activity in June 1991, as consumers flooded the market in a surge of buying following the victory in the Persian Gulf war. Although the rate fell below that of a year ago, last month's resale rate is "healthy and sustainable," Helfant said.
 According to NAR Chief Economist John A. Tuccillo, the June resale rate reflects a temporary lag in a market that is more robust than it was one year ago. "We've been experiencing a stall within a rise," Tuccillo said.
 He noted that the June slowdown in sales occurred as new doubts surfaced about the nation's economy. The Federal Reserve Board action to lower interest rates early this month should boost home sales activity in the months ahead, he said. "We expect mortgage rates to keep sliding," Tuccillo said.
 The national median existing single-family home price for June was $105,100, rising 2.9 percent from one year earlier, when the price was $102,100.
 In each of the regions, the January-through-June sales total was higher than that for the same period in 1991. In the Northeast, the six-month total was 246,000 units, rising 9.8 percent from the total for the first half of 1991. That region's resale rate was 540,000 units in June, up 1.9 percent from June 1991. The median price for existing single-family homes in the Northeast was $145,000 last month, up 2.3 percent from one year earlier.
 During the first half of this year, resales totalled 82,000 in the midwest, up 8.6 percent from the total for the first half of 1991. The resale rate in the Midwest was 860,000 units in June, unchanged from one year ago. The median existing-home price in the Midwest was $82,300, up 4.4 percent from June 1991.
 In the South, resales totaled 607,000 units between January and June, rising 2.4 percent from the six-month total for 1991. The South posted a resale rate of 1.24 million units in June, down 7.5 percent from the June 1991 pace. The region's median price was $92,500 last month, up 2.5 percent from one year earlier.
 The West recorded a total of 368,000 existing single-family home sales during the first half of this year, up 7.0 percent from the first half of 1991. The resale rate in that region was 730,000 units in June, 3.9 percent below the rate for June 1991. The median price in the West was $145,600 in June, dropping 2.0 percent from a year ago.
 Currently, NAR is predicting existing-home sales to total 3.48 million units this year, rising 8.1 percent from 1991, and reaching the highest level since 1988.
 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 and relatively light in the winter months, primarily because of differences in the weather.
 -0- 7/27/92
 /CONTACT: Trisha Morris, 202-383-7560; Annemarie Roketenetz, 202-383-7560; or Scott Sherwood, 202-383-1016; all of the National Association of Realtors/ CO: National Association of Realtors IN: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO


DS -- DC006 -- 3345 07/27/92 08:49 EDT
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Date:Jul 27, 1992
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