Existing-home sales move up in August

Existing-home sales increased 7.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million in August from an upwardly revised 3.84 million in July, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The August rates are 19.0% below the 5.10 million-unit pace in August 2009.

Last month’s sales were at the lowest level since the total existing-home sales series launched in 1999, according to the NAR.

"The housing market is trying to recover on its own power without the home buyer tax credit.," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

"Despite very attractive affordability conditions, a housing market recovery will likely be slow and gradual because of lingering economic uncertainty.

“Home values have shown stabilizing trends over the past year, even as the economy shed millions of jobs, because of the home buyer tax credit stimulus. Now that the economy is adding some jobs, the housing market needs to steadily improve and eventually stand on its own," Yun said.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 7.9% to an annual level of 680,000 in August but are 24.4% below August 2009. In the Midwest, sales increased 5.0% in August to a pace of 840,000 but are 26.3% below a year ago. The South saw a 5.2% increase to an annual level of 1.62 million in August but are 13.4% below August 2009. Existing-home sales in the West jumped 13.8% to an annual pace of 990,000 in August but are 16.1% lower than August 2009.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $178,600 in August, up 0.8% from a year ago. Distressed home sales rose to 34% of transactions in August from 32% in July; they were 31% in August 2009.

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