Two major market reports left real estate professionals shaking their heads this week over the latest sales data. RealtyTrac and NAR reported July sales headed in opposite directions as the buying season closed up shop for the duration.
Sales of residential properties were down 3 percent from June and down 12 percent from a year ago — the third consecutive month where annualized sales volume has decreased on a year-over-year basis, according to RealtyTrac’s July Housing and Foreclosure Report.
However, the National Association of Realtors reported pending home sales rebounded in July and have now risen in four of the last five months, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions experienced healthy gains except for the Midwest, which saw a slight decline. NAR said sales climbed 3.3 percent in July from June, but are still 2.1 percent below July 2013.
Both reports rely upon sales projections for recent months rather than actual closings. NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index is based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing. RealtyTrac’s sales counts for recent months are projected based on seasonality and expected number of sales records for those months that are not yet available from public record sources but will be in the future given historical patterns. Statistics for previous months are revised when each new monthly report is issued as more deed data becomes available for those previous months.
RealtyTrac reported that the median price of U.S. residential properties sold in July — including both distressed and non-distressed sales — was $191,000, up 3 percent from the previous month, and up 12 percent from a year ago to the highest level since September 2008, a 70-month high.
“As distressed sales continue to decline, the share of sales is tilting toward more expensive homes, boosting the nationwide median sales price,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “The nationwide home price increase, however, masks slowing home price appreciation in the majority of housing markets across the country. This slowing appreciation was expected and provides another sign that the real estate recovery thus far is behaving rationally. Still, the housing market is entering a dicey transition phase where it is becoming much more reliant on first-time homebuyers and move-up buyers to sustain the recovery as investor involvement wanes.”
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun expects existing-homes sales to be down 2.1 percent this year to 4.98 million, compared to 5.09 million sales of existing homes in 2013. The national median existing-home price is projected to grow between 5 and 6 percent this year and 4 and 5 percent next year.
Other high-level findings from the RealtyTrac Report:
• Properties selling in the $200,000-and-below price range accounted for 49 percent of all sales in July, down from 52 percent of all sales a year ago, while properties selling above $200,000 accounted for 51 percent of all sales in July, up from 48 percent of all sales a year ago (see table below for more detailed breakdown by price range).
• States with the biggest annual increase in median sales prices were Michigan (24 percent increase), Ohio (20 percent increase), Virginia (20 percent increase), Minnesota (14 percent increase), and New York (13 percent increase).
• Metros with the biggest annual increase in median sales price included Detroit (up 33 percent), Dayton, Ohio (up 31 percent), Stockton, Calif., (up 24 percent), Modesto, Calif., (up 22 percent), Cleveland (up 20 percent), and Miami (up 19 percent).
• Among 183 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more and with sufficient sales data, 119 (65 percent) saw lower annual home price appreciation in July 2014 compared to July 2013.
• Markets where annual home price appreciation in July 2014 dropped to single digits from double digits a year ago included San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, Denver and Phoenix.
• Out of the 183 major markets, 18 (10 percent) reached new median home price peaks in the last two months, including Denver, San Jose, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, Charlotte, N.C., Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tenn., and Oklahoma City.
• The median price of U.S. distressed sales — properties in the foreclosure process or bank-owned — was $128,000 in July, up 3 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from a year ago, but still 37 percent below the median price of non-distressed sales: $204,000.