RealtyTrac, which has historically reported
on the distressed home market, has now widened the focus of its U.S. Residential and Foreclosure Sales
Report to a more general discussion of the national real estate
market. The company reports that homes
in the U.S. sold at an estimated annualized rate of 5.5 million units in July,
a 4 percent increase from the previous month and 11 percent higher than in July
2012. The year-over-year increase in
sales was the largest so far this year.
Of particular note in the RealtyTrac
report was data on cash sales. The company
found cash transactions accounted for 40 percent of all sales in July compared
to 35 percent in June and 31 percent in July 2012. There were especially notable
month-over-month increases in cash sales in some cities; Dallas was up 82
percent, St. Louis 66 percent and Los Angeles 32 percent.
The national median sales price was
$174,500 in July, a 4 percent increase from June and 6 percent from the
previous year. July marked the 16th
consecutive month median home prices have increased. The median price of a foreclosed home was discounted
37 percent from the median price of a non-distressed sale to $120,000, 1
percent above the June median but down 1 percent from a year earlier.
While sales volume continued to
increase nationwide, eight states posted annual decreases in total sales,
including California (-17 percent), Arizona (-11 percent), Nevada (-7 percent),
and Georgia (-2 percent). Those four states also posted the four biggest annual
increases in median home prices in July: California (+31 percent); Nevada (+27
percent); Arizona (+21 percent); and Georgia (+20 percent).
"Low inventory of homes available
for sale is proving to be a double-edged sword in many local housing markets
that have bounced back quickly from the real estate slump," said Daren
Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Home prices are accelerating rapidly
in these markets thanks to the combination of low supply and strong demand.
However, counter to the national trend, sales volume in these markets is down
even as the percentage of cash sales rises, indicating there is still strong demand
but that buyers who need financing to purchase are increasingly left out in the
"The recent uptick in interest rates
could also be contributing to a higher percentage of cash purchases as some
non-cash buyers can no longer afford to buy, particularly in high-priced
markets," Blomquist added.
Sales of distressed properties
continue to hold a significant share of the market. Short sales accounted for 14 percent of all
residential sales in July, up from 13 percent in June and from 9 percent in
July 2012 while sales of bank-owned properties (REO) accounted for 9 percent of
sales, the same percentage as both the previous month and a year ago.
Institutional investor purchases
(sales to non-lending entities that purchased at least 10 properties in the
last 12 months) also accounted for 9 percent of all residential sales in July, a
percentage that was also unchanged from both the previous month and the same
month in 2012. Institutional investors
were particularly active in Atlanta where they accounted for 25 percent of
sales, Tampa (22 percent), Palm Bay, Florida. (20 percent); Greenville, South Carolina,
(19 percent); and Charlotte, (19 percent).