By Shobhana Chandra
Beacon Journal staff and wire report
Sales nationwide of previously owned homes unexpectedly rose in August to the highest level in more than six years as buyers rushed to lock in interest rates before they rise further.
Local home sales mirrored the national trend, with Summit County home purchases reaching their highest level for August in six years.
Nationally, purchases climbed 1.7 percent to a 5.48 million annual rate, the highest since February 2007, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed in a Thursday report.
As for nationwide home sales, the median forecast of 79 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a drop to 5.25 million.
In Summit County, the number of home sales increased 9.4 percent from August a year ago, with a total of 665 homes changing hands, a report from the Akron Area Board of Realtors showed.
That’s the most for the month of August since roughly 700 homes were sold in August 2007, the Akron board data show. In August of last year, the sales total was 608.
Meanwhile, sales prices in Summit County were down, with the median of properties sold in August dropping 3.3 percent to $119,900 from the $124,000 recorded for August 2012.
However, last month’s median was up from the August 2011 median price of $109,950.
Sales also were up in a 15-county Northeast Ohio area, including Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina and Cuyahoga counties. A total of 3,757 homes were sold in the counties last month , up 11.3 percent from the 3,376 sold in August 2012, according to the Northern Ohio Regional Multiple Listing Service.
Sales also increased statewide, totaling 13,545, which is a 16.9 percent increase from the 11,583 sales posted a year ago, according to figures from the Ohio Association of Realtors. The statewide group said the August 2013 sales total is the month’s best mark since 2006.
The statewide average sales price of $149,963 is a 3.4 percent increase from the $145,093 average price posted in August 2012.
The Ohio association does not provide a median price.
The median sales price jumped by the most since October 2005, reflecting tight inventory, the group said.
The data contain some transactions begun a month or two earlier when mortgage rates were near record lows. The national group said the surge in August was probably the “last hurrah” for the next 12 to 18 months as the jump in borrowing costs and prices hurts affordability.
“Housing will continue to improve, though the remarkable pace of improvement we saw in recent months isn’t going to persist,” said Tom Simons of Jefferies LLC.
Beacon Journal staff writer Katie Byard contributed to this report.