Existing-home sales, mortgage activity climb in late August

Recent memory has shown that the U.S. housing market is full of its share of ups and downs, as residential financing rates, home sales and many other conditions are constantly in a state of fluctuation.

Recent memory has shown that the U.S. housing market is full of its share of ups and downs, as residential financing rates, home sales and many other conditions are constantly in a state of fluctuation.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales surged to their best pace reported so far in 2014, now at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million units this July. That is 2.4 percent better than June's revised rate, but still 4.3 percent below conditions experienced at the same time last year.

"The number of houses for sale is higher than a year ago and tamer price increases are giving prospective buyers less hesitation about entering the market," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. "More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year and this trend should continue with interest rates remaining low and apartment rents on the rise."

In addition, NAR reported that the median existing-home price this past month hit $222,900. That is a year-over-year increase of 4.9 percent. Out of all existing-homes sold in July, 9 percent were foreclosed houses and short sales. At this time last year, that figure was 15 percent. 

Number of mortgages continues to increase
While interest in existing homes is on the rise, so too is the desire for affordable residential financing. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications increased on a weekly basis in late August, up 1.4 percent.

"Interest rates dropped last week as a result of the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine and other international concerns, which in turn pushed mortgage rates lower," said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the MBA. "Overall application volume for conventional mortgages increased."

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