Condo, Co-op Sales Rise 1.7 Percent in June

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington, D.C.–Existing condominium and co-op sales rose 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units in June from 580,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest report. This figure is 19.7 percent below the 735,000-unit level a year ago. The median existing condo price was $224,200 in June, which is 2.2 percent lower than it was in June 2007.Meanwhile, overall existing-home sales, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $4.86 million units in June from a pace of 4.99 million in May. NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif., says there is something of a quandary in the current market. “A recent online survey of Realtors shows nearly a quarter of potential home buyers are waiting on the sidelines. However, timing the market can be very tricky, which is why home buyers should always have a long-term view to build wealth.”Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 0.2 percent to 4.49 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 11.1.-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 10.8-month supply in May.Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says first-time homebuyers are critical to the health of the housing market. “About four in 10 homes are purchased by first-time buyers, which frees existing owners to trade up. With many potential first-time home buyers on the sidelines, a first-time buyer tax credit would have a significant positive impact on both housing and the economy.” Yun believes that combined with permanent increases to mortgage loan limits and enhancing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan program, the housing stimulus package currently working its way through Congress would go a long way toward helping consumers and boosting the overall economy.The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $215,100 in June, down 6.1 percent from a year ago when the median was $229,000.Yun says there is a downward distortion in the price data. “With short sales and foreclosures accounting for approximately one-third of transactions, it’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison with a year ago when they were only a minor portion of the market,” he says.According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 6.32 percent in June from 6.04 percent in May; the rate was 6.66 percent in June 2007.