The housing market got a double jolt of good news today, with
both existing home sales and new home construction showing healthy
gains in August, according to new reports.
Existing home sales were up 7.8 percent for the month, to a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million, according to
figures from the National Association of Realtors. That also
reflects a 9.3 percent annual increase over the August 2011 figure
of 4.41 million units.
It's the highest level reported since May 2010, when sales
spiked sharply ahead of the deadline for the homebuyer tax credit,
which boosted the market temporarily.
Meanwhile, the Census Bureau reported today that construction
starts on single family homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual
rate of 535,000 in August, up 5.5 percent over July's figures and
an impressive 26.8 percent annual gain over the August 2011 rate of
Pent-up demand cited
Both figures are still relatively weak by pre-recession
standards but are encouraging news for an industry that has been
mired in the doldrums since the recession hit and is generally
considered a major driver of the economy.
"The housing market is steadily recovering with consistent
increases in both home sales and median prices," said Edward Yun,
NAR chief economist. "More buyers are taking advantage of excellent
housing affordability conditions."
He said the housing market is getting stronger despite the
difficulty that many borrowers continue to have in qualifying for
mortgages, which he said is an indication of how pent-up demand has
developed over the past five years.
The median sales price for existing homes of all types was
$187,400, reflecting a 9.3 percent annual gain over the August 2011
level, according to the NAR, and the sixth consecutive month that
home prices have shown an annual increase.
The one part of today's housing data that looked a bit soft was
in newly issued building permits for single family homes, which
rose only 0.2 percent over their July level, to a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 512,000. However, that still represented a
19.3 percent annual increase over the past 12 months, according to
Census Bureau figures.
First published on MortgageLoan.com at: