Home sales, including both single family and condominiums, are on track to reach an eight year high this year according to RealtyTrac's August U.S. Home Sales Report. This record-setting pace is present both nationwide and in 54 percent of the 204 counties in which the company has compiled sufficient sales data.
By the end of August year-to-date single family and condo sales totaled 1,947,028 units, up 5.4 percent from the number sold in the first eight months of 2014 and the highest number of sales during a similar period since 2007's 2,069,963 unit sales.
There were 110 counties on track to set new eight year highs, 58 (28 percent) headed for nine-year highs, and 22 (11 percent) that could reach a 10-year record. In that top category are Denver, San Diego, the Florida markets of Sarasota, Naples, and Palm Bay, along with Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Reno, Nevada.
"The continued strength in sales volume across a wide spectrum of markets in August indicates that shockwaves from recent global stock market instability have not weakened the housing recovery and in fact there is evidence that the instability has fueled more demand for U.S. real estate," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. "The share of cash sales nationwide in August bounced back from a seven-year low in July, and the month-over-month increase in cash sales share was more pronounced in markets that have traditionally been magnets for foreign cash buyers, including Boston, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle and New York."
There was a slight resurgence in all cash sales in August after they hit a seven-year low of 23.6 percent in July. Those transactions accounted for 24.5 percent of single-family and condo sales, down from 26.7 percent a year earlier and a far cry from the 39.6 percent peak in February 2013. Cash sales still account for more than 40 percent of sales in Miami, New York, and Las Vegas.
RealtyTrac noted that the share of buyers using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans also increased in August, accounting for 23.1 percent of sales, up from 23.0 percent in July and up from 17.8 percent in August 2014.
"It wasn't just cash buyers that kept home sales volume strong in August," Blomquist noted. "The share of buyers using FHA loans in August increased 30 percent from a year ago, and the year-over-year increase in the share of FHA buyers was 50 percent or more in markets such as Nashville, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Portland and San Diego. Those markets with a solid and fast-growing share of FHA buyers are poised for longer, more sustainable growth going forward than markets that are more dependent on capricious cash buyers."
FHA loans enabled more than 30 percent of home sales in Las Vegas, Riverside-San Bernardino, Baltimore, Phoenix and Atlanta.
Among markets with at least 10,000 single family home and condo sales in the first eight months of 2015, those with the biggest year-over-year increases were Salt Lake City (+31.6 percent), Portland (+22.2 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (+19.2 percent), Jacksonville, Florida (+16.6 percent), and Seattle (+16.2 percent).
The biggest year-over-year declines among markets with at least 10,000 sales through August were in Cleveland (-13.8 percent), Baltimore (-12.1 percent), Cincinnati (-11.8 percent), Chicago (-10.4 percent) and New York (-10.1 percent).
Other highlights from the RealtyTrac report included reports of a decline of 9.3 percent month-over-month and 12.2 percent year-over-year in distressed home sales which now represent 8.9 percent of sales. Also sales of homes to institutional investors - entities that purchase at least 10 properties during a calendar year - accounted for 1.0 percent of all single family home and condo sales in August, up from just 0.3 percent in July but down from 3.2 percent in August 2014.