US property sales stabilising...

SALES of existing homes in the US rose last month following a big correction in July, a new report said yesterday.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), the US trade body representing estate agents, said existing-home sales increased 7.6 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13m in August from an upwardly revised 3.84m in July. But they remain 19 per cent below the 5.1m sales in August 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home sales would remain subdued. “The housing market is trying to recover on its own power without the home buyer tax credit. Despite very attractive affordability conditions, a housing market recovery will likely be slow and gradual because of lingering economic uncertainty,” he added.

US mortgage lender Freddie Mac said the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low of 4.43 per cent in August from 4.56 per cent in July. The average rate was 5.19 per cent in August 2009.

The average house price in the US now stands at $178,600, up 0.8 per cent from a year ago. Distressed homes sales rose two per cent from a month earlier to 34 per cent of all sales in August. They accounted for 31 per cent of all sales the year before.

Yun said the figures were proof that the US housing market had been “stabilising” over the past year.