For August, 2012

Contracts to buy US homes hits 2-year high in July


Americans signed the most contracts to buy homes in July than at any other point in the last two years, further evidence of a housing recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes jumped 2.4 percent in July to 101.7. That’s higher than June’s reading of 99.3.

The Realtors’ group said contract signings increased in July in all regions of the U.S. except for the West, which it said has a severe shortage of available homes for sale.

The increase is the latest sign that the home sales are finally rebounding five years after the housing bubble burst.

Home prices have also started to rise consistently, which could boost sales further in the months to come.

U.S. new-home sales rise to match 2-year high


Sales of new homes in the United States rose 3.6 percent in July to match a two-year high reached in May, the latest sign of a steady recovery in the housing market.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that new-home sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 372,000. That’s the same as in May, which was the highest since April 2010.

The housing market is making a modest but steady recovery in part because homes are more affordable: Mortgage rates have fallen to near-record lows. Housing prices are about one-third lower than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006. Those trends have helped lift sales of both new and previously occupied homes.

US home construction dips, but signs point up


U.S. builders slowed their pace of housing construction slightly in July. But in a hopeful sign for future construction, applications for building permits rose to their highest level since August 2008.

The Commerce Department says construction of single-family homes and apartments dipped 1.1 percent in July compared with June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000. In June, the pace had been the fastest since October 2008.

The weakness in July came from a 6.5 percent drop in the building of single-family homes, which represent about 70 percent of the market.

Even with the slight setback in July, housing remains on an upward trend. The construction of single-family homes is up 17 percent from a year ago.

For July, total home construction rose in the Midwest but fell in all other parts of the country.

King County home prices up 7 percent from last year


King County home prices rose 7.2 percent in July compared with one year ago, extending their streak of such gains to four straight months, according to statistics released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

The median price of single-family homes sold in July was $375,250, a 1 percent drop from June. And the year-over-year increase of $25,250, or 7.2 percent, was smaller than June’s 10.1 percent jump.

The number of closed home sales last month in King County was 26 percent higher than last year and the highest since August 2007.

Median prices are up 19 percent this year, but nearly 22 percent below where they were at in July 2007, the all-time high for King County.

Prices for condos are slightly up compared with last year.

In Snohomish County, median home prices grew 13 percent year-over-year, and closed sales grew 24 percent.

It was more of the same in Pierce County, closed sales up just 2.5 percent and the median home price down 2 percent.

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