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Home sales climb in Summit, statewide

Staff and wire report

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Home sales in Summit County in June reached their highest level for the month since 2007 as the housing market nationwide continued to show signs of recovery.

The number of homes changing hands last month in Summit totaled 630.

That’s up 10.5 percent from the 570 of a year ago, and the most for the month of June since sales approached 700 in June 2007, according to reports from the Akron Area Board of Realtors.

Meanwhile, the local inventory of homes for sale remained tight, putting upward pressure on prices.

The median sale price in Summit County climbed to $137,000. That’s up 8.3 percent from $126,450 in June 2012. It’s the highest median price since July 2007, when it was more than $140,000.

A total of 3,397 homes were on the market in Summit County in June. That’s down 13.1 percent compared with the 3,911 homes available a year ago. Supply is down dramatically from June 2011, when there were 4,851 homes on the market.

Area real estate agents suggest rising sales prices also are due to fewer “distressed” properties — foreclosures and “short sales” — on the market. Short sales occur when a lender allows a property to be sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage.

Nationwide, sales of previously occupied homes slipped in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million but remain near a 3½-year high.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales fell 1.2 percent last month from an annual rate of 5.14 million in May. The NAR revised down May’s sales, but they were still the highest since November 2009.

Despite the month-to-month dip, home sales nationwide have surged 15.2 percent from a year ago. Sales have recovered since early last year, buoyed by job gains and low mortgage rates.

In a 15-county Northeast Ohio area, including Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina and Cuyahoga counties, sales of single-family homes in June increased 13.3 percent to 3,611 compared with the 3,187 sold in June 2012, according to the Northern Ohio Regional Multiple Listing Service.

Statewide, sales in June reached 13,019, their highest level since 2007, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors.

Statewide sales were up 15.5 percent from the 11,267 sales posted during June 2012.

The average sales price of $161,498 statewide is a 7 percent increase from the $150,992 average price posted in June 2012.

The Ohio association does not provide a median price.

Nationwide, rising prices meant there were fewer properties valued at less than $100,000 for first-time buyers to purchase — hurting sales — and higher mortgage rates are also starting to cool demand for more expensive houses in the West and Northeast, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke last week said housing was one of the bright spots for growth and added that policy makers will monitor the recent jump in interest rates to ensure it won’t derail the nascent recovery.

“What’s holding sales down is just that there are just not a lot of homes for sale,” Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass., said before the National Association of Realtors report was issued Monday.

“We’re not expecting really strong numbers for the rest of the year even though the housing market is getting hot,” Newport said. “What you’re seeing is this pent-up demand show up in higher prices, not in higher sales.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey of economists ranged from 4.99 million to 5.5 million. The prior month’s pace was revised from a previously reported 5.18 million.

The median price of an existing home climbed 13.5 percent to $214,200 last month from $188,800 a year earlier, Monday’s report showed.

The number of properties on the market increased 1.9 percent to 2.19 million, the fewest for any June since 2001. At the current sales pace, it would take 5.2 months to sell those houses compared with 5 months at the end of May.

“Momentum still appears to be strong,” National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said at a news conference as the figures were released Monday. “The inventory shortage is continuing to push prices higher.”

The shortage was particularly acute for homes priced at less than $100,000, making it difficult for first-time buyers to find affordable properties, he said.

Existing-home sales are recovering after reaching a 13-year low of 4.11 million in 2008. The market peaked at a record 7.08 million in 2005. Resales accounted for about 93 percent of the residential market in 2012.

Beacon Journal business writer Katie Byard contributed to this report.


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