Total existing-home sales rose 2.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million in July, up from 4.37 million in June, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). July's level is 10.4% above the 4.05 million-unit pace in July 2011.
NAR reports that the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $187,300 in July, up 9.4% from a year ago. The July gain is considered to be the strongest since January 2006, when the median price rose 10.2% from a year earlier.
Distressed homes accounted for 24% of July sales, with 12% stemming from foreclosures and 12% from short sales. This is down from 25% in June and 29% in July 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 17% below market value in July, while short sales were discounted 15%.
The total housing inventory at the end July increased 1.3% to 2.4 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.4-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 6.5-month supply in June. The listed inventory is 23.8% below a year ago, when there was a 9.3-month supply.
First-time buyers accounted for 34% of purchasers in July, up from 32% in June; they were also 32% in July 2011. All-cash sales slipped to 27% of transactions in July from 29% in June; they were 29% in July 2011. Investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 16% of homes in July, down from 19% in June; they were 18% in July 2011.
Single-family home sales increased 2.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.98 million in July, up from 3.90 million in June; they are 9.9% above the 3.62 million-unit level in July 2011. The median existing single-family home price was $188,100 in July, up 9.6% from a year ago.