A total of 1,344,129 single-family homes and condos sold in the first half – the highest number of home sales in the first half of any year since 2007, according to RealtyTrac's July 2015 U.S. Home Sales Report.
As of June 30, 124 of 190 (or 65% of) markets tracked by the firm were at an eight-year high for sales for the year.
Of those, 26 markets, or 14%, were at a 10-year high for home sales in the first half. Four markets reached an all-time high for sales volume in the first half since 2000, the earliest data available. These markets included The Villages, Fla.; Lincoln, Neb.; Pittsburgh; and Denver.
The report includes a section showing which markets saw the biggest increases in home sales in the first half compared to the first half of 2008. Topping the list is the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., market, which saw 46,590 home sales in the first half compared to 22,528 in the first half of 2008.
The increase in home sales in the first half came despite the fact that home prices in most markets were the highest they've been in seven years. According to RealtyTrac's data, the U.S. median home sales price in July was $189,500, an increase of 2% compared to June and an increase of 2% from a year ago to reach the highest level since September 2008. Of the 161 markets tracked nationwide, 10 markets (6%) reached new home price peaks in July.
All-cash buyers accounted for 22.6% of all single-family home and condo sales in July, down from 23.7% in June and down from 26.5% in July 2014 to reach the lowest level since July 2008.
Markets with the highest share of cash sales in July included Sebastian, Fla. (54.6%); Homosassa Springs, Fla. (53.3%); Sebring, Fla. (52.6%); Naples, Fla. (50.2%); Port St. Lucie, Fla. (49.1%); Punta Gorda, Fla. (48.7%); The Villages, Fla. (48.4%); Miami (47.6%); Sarasota, Fla. (47%); New York (43.2%); Orlando, Fla. (37.6%); Tampa, Fla. (35.3%); Las Vegas (32.6%); Rochester, N.Y. (32.6%); and Detroit (31.9%).
‘While the stock market may be on a roller coaster as of late, the housing market is still on solid ground, with the eight-year low in cash sales combined with the eight-year high in overall sales volume in the first half of the year evidence that housing is successfully transitioning from an investor-driven recovery to one that is drawing in traditional buyers as a good foundation for sustainable growth going forward,’ says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, in a statement. ‘That's not to say there are no cracks in the foundation of this recovery, the top three of which are housing affordability – or lack thereof in some high-flying markets – along with over-dependence on capricious cash buyers – both foreign and domestic – in some markets and the persistent overhang of underwater homeowners who continue to represent heightened default risk, given any future economic shockwaves.’
Foreclosure sales – including the sale of bank-owned properties – accounted for 6.4% of all single-family and condo sales in July – down from 6.6% of all sales in June and down from 8.0% in July 2014, according to RealtyTrac.
Metros with the highest share of in-foreclosure properties in July included Salisbury, N.C. (23.6%); Rockford, Ill. (17.1%); Morehead City, N.C. (16.3%); Baltimore (16.1%); Toledo, Ohio (15.2%); Chicago (14.7%); Tampa, Fla. (12.7%); Las Vegas (12.3%); Milwaukee (11.7%); Virginia Beach, Va. (11.4%); and Cincinnati (11.3%).
In 61 of the 172 markets analyzed for in-foreclosure sales (35%), the share of in-foreclosure sales increased from a year ago, counter to the national trend. Those markets included Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, according to the report.
‘All indicators continue to point to a normalizing market,’ says Mark Hughes, chief operating officer with First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market. ‘A downtick in all cash and distress sales coupled with 100% of sales at estimated value and increasing median prices bodes well for continued strength through the fall. We have seen growth in inventory, which should tamp down this run of price growth; we need consistency to support the gains and to help maintain confidence moving forward.’