A warm spring and early summer kept home sales chugging along in Western New York in July, as the number of homes that changed hands rose 1.2 percent from a year earlier, while both median and average prices also rose.
According to new figures from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, 907 homes sold in July, up from 896 in July 2011. That's also up 18.7 percent from the 764 sold two years ago, when the market was still struggling after the collapse of real estate nationwide.
Even more encouraging, pending sales - where the deal's been signed, but hasn't closed - rose to 945 from 876 in July 2011, the fourth-highest level for any month in the last two years. Pending sales also were up 26.2 percent from 749 in July 2010.
"A few short years ago, housing was considered a headwind to economic recovery. Today, housing is seen as a tailwind to a stalling economy," BNAR said in its monthly report.
BNAR reports only sales through its member Realtors, in the eight-county Western New York region, as well as some in Livingston and Monroe counties.
For the year to date, total closed sales of 5,021 were up 7.6 percent from 4,667 in the first seven months of 2011, but remained down 11.3 percent from 5,660 in the same period of 2010.
Pending sales rose 13.4 percent to 6,319 from 5,572, and were up 2.4 percent from two years ago.
Prices also rose. The median price - half sold for more, half for less - rose 1.6 percent from $125,000 to $127,000, while the average rose 2.5 percent to $152,645 from $148,872. Both were the second-highest level in the last two years, and were also up from two years ago.
Homes spent an average of 65 days on the market in July, down 4.4 percent from 68 days a year earlier. Sellers received 95.5 percent of their list price, down slightly from 95.7 percent a year ago.
However, for the year to date, homes spent 81 days on the market, up 2.5 percent or two days from a year ago, while sellers got 94.8 percent of their price, up from 94.6 percent in the first seven months a year ago.
Demand outstripped supply, as new listings on the market fell 1.5 percent to 1,595 from 1,620, while the total inventory of homes for sale fell 14.8 percent to 5,811 from 6,817.
Based on the pace of sales, the market held 7.2 months of supply of homes for sale, down 22.6 percent from 9.3 months a year earlier.
Still, BNAR sounded a note of caution, even with continued record low interest rates driving more activity.
The average rate on a 30-year mortgage hit the lowest level in the history of the survey at the end of July, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.
"Sustained recovery will not occur without real employment and wage growth," BNAR said.