Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose more than anticipated in August as investors scooped up distressed properties with cash.
The 7.7 percent increase left purchases at a five-month high 5.03 million annual rate, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The August pace compares with a peak of 7.08 million in 2005, before the housing boom turned into a subprime-mortgage bust that dragged the economy into an 18-month recession.
“Housing’s been down for so long, we should take whatever good news we can get,” said Brian Jones, an economist at Societe Generale in New York, whose forecast was among the highest in the Bloomberg survey. “Interest rates are low and pricing is attractive and people are responding.”
The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 4.75 million rate. Forecasts in the survey of 74 economists ranged from 4.5 million to 4.99 million.
Existing home sales rose more than expected in August to their highest level in five months as falling prices and low interest rates drew more buyers into a still moribund market.
The data did little to change the view that housing, hobbled by a burst bubble which triggered a major recession, will not help the economy much anytime soon.
Sales climbed 7.7 percent from the previous month to an annual rate of 5.03 million units, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday. The median price was 5.1 percent lower than a year earlier.
“This housing market is still very distressed,” said Michael Hanson, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York.
“We have to get a lot of good news for a meaningful turnaround in the housing market,” he said.
The outlook for housing prices remains grim. A survey by MacroMarkets LLC showed economists expect home prices to rise just 1.1 percent a year through 2015.
Existing home sales rose more than expected in August to the fastest annual pace since March as falling prices and low interest rates drew more buyers into the market, the National Association of Realtors said.
ales climbed 7.7 percent month over month to an annual rate of 5.03 million units, the NAR said Wednesday. The median price was 5.1 percent lower than a year earlier.
Rising rents are also helping Americans decide to buy homes, the NAR said.
“Favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations,” Lawrence Yun, chief NAR economist, said in a statement.
Yun said the increase in sales came despite some disruptions from Hurricane Irene, which battered much of the East Coast at the end of the month.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales to rise 1.4 percent to a 4.71-million-unit pace. Compared to August 2010, sales were 18.6 percent higher.