July 2014 saw existing-home sales increase to their highest annual pace of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Total existing-home sales in July 2014 were up 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million, from a slight downwardly revised rate of 5.03 million in June 2014. It was the fourth month of rising sales and put the sales at their highest pace of 2014.
Still, sales were down 4.3% from the pace of 5.38 million units in July 2013, which was 2013's peak.
Total existing-home sales include the completed sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops.
Stronger job growth and improving inventory conditions are helping the housing industry build momentum, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
"The number of houses for sale is higher than a year ago and tamer price increases are giving prospective buyers less hesitation about entering the market,” Yun said. “More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year and this trend should continue with interest rates remaining low and apartment rents on the rise.”
Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales – were 9% of July sales, from 15% in July 2013.
In July 2014, 29% of existing homebuyers in were first-time buyers, which is up from 28% in June but still at historically low levels.
Existing single-family home sales were up 2.7% in July 2014, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million, from 4.43 million in June. The rate is still down 4.2% from the pace of 4.75 million in July 2013.
July 2014 sales of existing condominium and co-op sales were unchanged from June at a 600,000 unit annual rate, but were down 4.8% from 630,000 in July 2013.
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