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Despite Dip in August, Home Sales Remain Brisker Than a Year Ago

September 28, 1993|From staff and wire reports

Homes sales in California and across the United States dipped slightly in August from July, but remained well above their year-earlier levels, two realty trade groups said Monday.

The California Assn. of Realtors said homes in the state sold at a 419,090 annual rate last month, down 2.9% from July but up 10.1% from the sales rate of August, 1992.

Nationwide, home sales slipped 1.3% from July to a 3.81-million rate, but were still 14.1% above their year-earlier levels, the National Assn. of Realtors said.

Sales in Los Angeles County were down 0.7% from July but up 8.8% from a year ago, the California trade group said. In Orange County, sales climbed 6.8% from July and were 44.4% higher than their weak levels of a year earlier.

Analysts and realtors attributed the state's year-over-year sales increase to lower home prices and a drop in mortgage rates. Rates on fixed, 30-year loans stood at 7.11% last month, compared to 7.97% a year earlier, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.

The median price of a Los Angeles home in August was $197,240, down 1.2% from July and off 6.8% from a year ago. The Orange County median of $222,240 was up 0.6% from the previous month but down 4.8% from a year earlier.

Though lower rates and falling prices have been helping sales over the last several months, California Assn. of Realtors economist Leslie Appleton-Young said a full-blown turnaround won't come to the state's housing market until the economy improves.

Although mortgage rates continue to fall, "job growth and improved consumer confidence are two other key elements needed for a sustained housing recovery," Appleton-Young said.

The 1.3% decline in nationwide sales from July was blamed on a sharp 8.6% sales drop in the Midwest.

Existing Home Sales

Seasonally adjusted annual rate, millions of units: Aug., 1993: 3.81

Source: National Assn. of Realtors

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