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 WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Sales of previously owned homes rose sharply in July from one year earlier, as consumers flooded the market to take advantage of extremely low mortgage rates, according to the National Association of Realtors.
 The association recorded a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate(A) of 3.88 million existing single-family homes in July, up 14.8 percent from July 1992. Last month's resale rate was the highest posted since December 1992, when the rate hit 4.04 million units. In addition, the July rate represented the highest yearly percentage increase since last January, when the rate rose 14.9 percent. Strong year-to-year increases in home sales were posted in all of the regions.
 NAR President William S. Chee said continued low mortgage rates have drawn even more buyers and sellers during the time of the year in which home buying activity traditionally peaks. "Summer generally is busy, but this year is extraordinary," he said. "More and more `sold' signs are going up," he said. "The timing is right for both sellers and buyers."
 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 7.21 percent in July, the lowest monthly rate ever recorded by the corporation. July's rate fell from 7.42 percent in June, and was more than 1 percentage point below that for July 1992.
 Last month's national median existing single-family home price was $109,200, which was 6.2 percent higher than one year earlier, when the price was $102,800. 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 July, there were 2.13 million existing single-family homes sold nationwide. The year-to-date total was 4.3 percent higher than that for the first seven months of 1992.
 An ample supply of affordable housing resulted in very strong year- to-year sales increases for both the South and Midwest. The South recorded the strongest year-to-year increase in resales. In that region, the existing-home sales rate was 1.46 million units in July, up an extraordinary 17.7 percent from the July 1992 pace. The South's median price was $98,300 last month, up 7.5 percent from one year earlier.
 Despite the deluge of rain and the devastation caused by river flooding, sales in the Midwest were high. The resale rate in that region was 1.05 million units in July, which was up 14.1 percent from one year earlier. The median existing-home price in the Midwest was $86,500, up 6.1 percent from July 1992. The West also recorded a surge in resale activity. Existing homes there sold at a rate of 810,000 units in July, up 15.7 percent from July 1992. The median price in the West was $144,500, up 0.5 percent from one year earlier.
 In the Northeast, the pace for July was 560,000 units, up 7.7 percent from July 1992. The median price for existing single-family homes in the Northeast was $141,600 last month, up 0.4 percent from one year earlier.
 According to NAR Chief Economist John A. Tuccillo, much of the activity in the Northeast and West is due to purchases at the lower end of the price range. "Sellers have adjusted their prices, and buyers who were priced out a few years ago are realizing they can afford to be in the market now," he said.
 According to Tuccillo, this year is shaping up to be a very healthy one for the housing industry. "The market is experiencing an ideal combination of low rates and stable prices. It's too good of a deal for consumers to pass up," he said.
 Currently, NAR is predicting existing single-family home sales to total 3.610 million units this year, representing a 2.6 percent increase from the 1992 total. The median price for existing single-family homes is expected to be $106,400, rising 2.6 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- 8/25/93
 /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: SU: ECO

TW-DC -- DC001 -- 5705 08/25/93 08:45 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 25, 1993

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