Tuesday, May 17 2011
WASHINGTON (May 10, 2011)—Existing-home sales continued to recover in the first quarter, with gains recorded in 49 states and the District of Columbia, while 22% of the available metropolitan areas saw prices rise from a year ago, according to the latest survey by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, rose 8.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.14 million in the first quarter from 4.75 million in the fourth quarter, and are only 0.8% below a 5.18 million pace during the same period in 2010.
Also in the first quarter, the median existing single-family home price rose in 34 out of 153 metropolitan statistical areas from the first quarter of 2010, including four with double-digit increases; one was unchanged and 118 areas showed price declines.
Home prices are all over the map, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The reading of quarterly price data can be volatile because they are based on the types of homes that are sold during the quarter. When buyers principally purchase distressed properties in a given market, the recorded prices will be very low, which is what we’re seeing now in much of the country,” he said. “Annual price data provides a better guide about the direction of the market in those areas.”
National median home price
The national median existing single-family home price was $158,700 in the first quarter, down 4.6% from $166,400 in the first quarter of 2010. The median is where half sold for more and half sold for less. Distressed homes, typically sold at a discount of about 20%, accounted for 39% of first quarter sales, up from 36% a year earlier.
“The biggest sales increase has been in the lower price ranges, which are popular with investors and cash buyers,” Yun said. “The preponderance of sales activity at the lower end is bringing down the median price, so what we’re seeing is the result of a change in the composition of home sales.”
The volume of homes sold for $100,000 or less in the first quarter was 8.9% higher than the first quarter of 2010, creating a downward skew on the overall median price. The share of all-cash home purchases rose to 33% in the first quarter from 27% in the first quarter of 2010.
Investors accounted for 21% of first quarter transactions, up from 18% a year ago, while first-time buyers purchased 32% of homes, down from 42% in the first quarter of 2010 when a tax credit was in place. Repeat buyers accounted for a 47% market share in the first quarter, up from 40% a year earlier.
NAR President Ron Phipps said strong sales of distressed homes are exactly what the market needs. “The good news is foreclosures, which account for two-thirds of all distressed homes sold, are selling very quickly,” he said. “Short sales still take far too long to get lender approval, but it appears the inventory of distressed property is peaking and will be gradually declining next year. This means the market should slowly return to balance. We are encouraged that recent home buyers are having exceptionally low default rates.”
In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices—covering changes in 53 metro areas—showed the national median existing-condo price was $152,900 in the first quarter, down 10.4% from the first quarter of 2010. Eleven metros showed increases in the median condo price from a year ago, one was unchanged, and 41 areas had declines.
Regional home sales
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 0.8% in the first quarter to a level of 800,000 but are 7.3% below the first quarter of 2010. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast declined 5.0% to $234,100 in the first quarter from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 7.9% in the first quarter to a pace of 1.09 million but are 5.0% below a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest fell 5.3% to $124,400 in the first quarter from the same period in 2010.
In the South, existing-home sales increased 8.5% in the first quarter to an annual rate of 1.96 million and are 2.8% higher than the first quarter of 2010. The median existing single-family home price in the South slipped 0.6% to $141,800 in the first quarter from a year earlier.
Existing-home sales in the West jumped 13.5% in the first quarter to a level of 1.29 million and are 2.1% above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West fell 4.7% to $197,400 in the first quarter from the first quarter of 2010.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/existing-home-sales-rise-most-states-first-quarter/#ixzz1M4ODTTvU