Home Sales Hit Two-Year High

Data Provided By National Association of Realtors (NAR)

Home Sales ImproveProviding more evidence of a housing market recovery, home resales increased at the fastest pace in nearly 30 months in August, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Existing home sales rose by 7.8% last month, while the median price for resales climbed to $187,400, a 9.5% year-over-year jump. "The housing market recovery is becoming much more convincing," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "More buyers are taking advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions."

A major key to the improved market, NAR claims, is the reduction of so-called distressed housing sales. Over the last 12 months, distressed sales – in which the seller has much less leverage – have fallen from 31% of total sales to 22%. There are also more homes available for purchase, as the nation's inventory of houses rose 2.9% in August to 2.47 million.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast U.S. rose 8.6% last month, with properties selling at a median price of $245,200. Sales jumped 8.3% in the West, 7.7% in the Midwest and7.3% in the South.

Also aiding the gains is new housing construction, which also jumped in August. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, builders broke ground on new homes at an annual rate of 750,000 units, a 2.3% rise. Still, experts believe there's room for even more expansion, especially if the number of first-time homebuyers goes up. Last month, that number actually fell to 31%, down from 34% in July.