Existing-Home Sales Increase 9.6 Percent, Market Heading in ‘Right Direction,’ says Michael Parent, MORe President-elect

Existing-home sales in May were up from last year, but more importantly, prices also increased.

Existing-home sales in May declined 1.5 percent from April to May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million, but were up 9.6 percent from May 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Median existing-home price, though, was a definite positive, rising 7.9 percent from last May to its third consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Other data from NAR’s report included:

  • Total housing inventory also declined, falling 0.4 percent from April and 20.4 percent from last year to a 6.6-month supply.
  • Distressed sales accounted for 25 percent of May’s sales, down from 31 percent last year.
  • First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of purchasers in May.
  • All-cash sales were 28 percent of transactions, and investors purchased 17 percent of May’s homes.
  • Regionally, sales in the Midwest were up 19.5 percent from last year and median price was up 6.4 percent; in the South, price gains were similarly strong, up 7.8 percent.

Michael Parent, the president-elect of the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors and the managing broker of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in St. Charles, said that though the national data from NAR is “probably what we expected,” it does not reflect the markets he has been overseeing in the Chicagoland area.

“Across the region, I definitely feel we’re on an upswing,” Parent said, adding that activity in St. Charles, Hinsdale, Naperville and Wheaton have been particularly strong. For Parent’s personal office in St. Charles, there were 89 sales in May, an increase of 22 from last year, and MORe actually reported a 22 percent increase in year-over-year sales for Chicago’s suburbs.

The activity in Chicago’s markets, Parent explained, is particularly promising for one main reason – it shows that buyers and sellers are “creating their own confidence,” meaning showing initiative and not waiting for new housing policies from the federal government or the Federal Reserve to assist housing.

A big part of that, he said, has been buyers transitioning from renting to buying, upon realizing that with record-low interest rates and competitively-priced homes, they can own for less money than they can rent.

“We need to make our own recovery,” Parent said, and the last two months indicate Chicago is doing just that.

Miami

Ralph De Martino, the broker for Miami Coastal Condos in Miami Beach and a member of the Master Brokers Forum, said that while national sales have declined, the market is doing quite well in Miami; in fact, it’s building off a record-breaking 2011.

2005, De Martino explained, was a record-breaking year for Miami’s real estate market, but in 2011, single-family home sales were 36 percent higher than in 2010 and condo sales 54 percent higher, which combined to post stronger numbers than in 2005 – and in April, the most recent data currently available, single-family home sales were 7.2 percent higher than the April of 2011.

Such demand, De Martino continued, can create stress on inventory levels, and he admitted that “I spend most of my time trying to generate inventory.” With those lower levels, though, prices have begun to increase, and in 2012, he said there has been a “tremendous” increase in prices, to the tune of 8.2 percent for single-family homes and 30 percent for condos.

“The market is very, very good,” De Martino said. “There are a lot of buyers.”

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