NAR: Existing-home sales drop for sixth straight month

Existing-home sales -- including homes, condos and co-ops -- fell in August for the sixth straight month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.5 million units in August from a level of 5.75 million in July, a drop of 4.3 percent. That rate is 12.8 percent below the 6.31 million-unit pace last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, said the decline was expected, especially following “unusual” disruptions in the mortgage market. Those disruptions included a significant rise in rates for jumbo loans and a higher number of canceled or postponed sales.

“Lower sales contributed to a buildup of unsold inventory,” Yun said. “Once we get through these disruptions, we’ll get a better sense of where the actual market is in late fall as conditions begin to normalize.”

Total housing inventory rose 0.4 percent at the end of August to 4.58 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 9.5-month supply in July.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $224,500 in August, up 0.2 percent from August 2006 when the median was $224,000. 

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 6.57 percent in August, down from 6.7 percent in July; the rate was 6.52 percent in August 2006. 

Last week, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed rate was down to 6.34 percent.

Single-family home sales fell 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million in August from a pace of 5 million in July, and are 13.0 percent below the 5.53 million-unit level in August 2006. 

Existing condominium and co-op sales dropped 8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 690,000 units in August from 750,000 in July, and are 11.7 percent lower than the 781,000-unit pace a year ago.  The median existing condo price was $228,500 in August, up 2.1 percent from August 2006.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast slipped 2 percent in August to an annual pace of 1 million, 5.7 percent below a year ago.  The median price in the Northeast was $282,300, up 3.6 percent from August 2006.

Existing-home sales in the South fell 2.7 percent to a level of 2.2 million in August, and are 12.7 percent lower than August 2006.  The median existing-home price in the South was $183,500, down 0.7 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest fell 5.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.28 million in August, and are 10.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $177,100, up 3.1 percent from August 2006.

Existing-home sales in the West dropped 9.8 percent in August to a level of 1.01 million, and are 21.7 percent below August 2006.  The median price in the West was $332,300, which is 3.8 percent below a year ago.