Existing-home sales increase to highest level in six months

Sales of existing homes rose 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 million units in July from a downwardly-revised pace of 4.85 million units in June, according to the National Asso-ciation of Realtors (NAR).

The July figure still is 13.2 percent below the 5.76 million-unit level in July 2007.

"We hope the new tools in the hands of home buyers from the recently enacted housing stimulus package will spark a sustained sales uptrend in the months ahead," said NAR president Richard Gaylord. "Buyers who've been on the sidelines should take a closer look at what's available to them now in terms of financing and incentives."

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $212,400 in July, down 7.1 percent from a year ago when the median was $228,600.

Single-family home sales rose 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.39 million in July from 4.26 million in June, but are 12.4 percent below the 5.01 million-unit level a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $210,900 in July, down 7.7 percent from July 2007.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in July from 590,000 in June, but are 18.6 percent below the 749,000-unit pace in July 2007. The median existing condo price was $223,400 in July, which is 2.7 percent below a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the West jumped 9.7 percent in July to a level of 1.13 million and are 0.9 percent higher than July 2007. The median price in the West was $273,200, down 22.2 percent from a year ago.

In the Northeast, existing-home sales rose 5.9 percent to an annual pace of 900,000 in July, but are 11.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $278,700, which is 4.9 percent lower than July 2007.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.12 million in July, but are 17.0 percent lower than July 2007. The median price in the Midwest was $175,400, up 1.0 percent from a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales slipped 0.5 percent to an annual pace of 1.85 million in July, and are 18.1 percent below a year ago. The median price in the South was $179,300, down 3.5 percent from June 2007.