Improving Economy Slowly Brightens Outlook for Commercial Real Estate

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – Aug 26, 2014) – The strong rebound in economic growth during the second quarter and ongoing job creation are gradually improving the outlook for all of the major commercial real estate sectors, according to the National Association of Realtors® quarterly commercial real estate forecast.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says after many false starts, the economy finally appears to be turning a corner to firmer ground. “The job market has been the bright spot of the economy this year as employers are feeling more confident about their growth prospects and adding to their payrolls,” he said. “This gradual turnaround from being overly cautious to more optimistic should slightly boost the demand for leasing and purchase activity as well as new construction projects in the upcoming year.”

Yun adds, “The economy can handle the inevitable rise in interest rates as long as commercial rents steadily rise to generate investor returns.” 

National office vacancy rates are forecast to remain unchanged over the coming year, mostly due to added inventory entering the market. Rising exports and a shrinking trade deficit should lead to a declining vacancy rate for industrial space (0.4 percent), while retail space is forecast to decline 0.2 percent behind favorable gains in personal income and consumer spending.

“New construction for multifamily housing has picked up in recent months and looks to be alleviating the short supply,” said Yun. “However, the demand for rental housing continues to show strength. As a result, rent growth will outpace broad consumer inflation in upcoming years.”

NAR’s latest Commercial Real Estate Outlook1 offers overall projections for four major commercial sectors and analyzes quarterly data in the office, industrial, retail and multifamily markets. Historic data for metro areas were provided by REIS Inc., a source of commercial real estate performance information.

Office Markets

Office vacancy rates are forecast to remain unchanged at15.7 percent through the third quarter of 2015.

Currently, the markets with the lowest office vacancy rates in the third quarter are Washington, D.C., at 9.3 percent; New York City, 9.6 percent; Little Rock, Ark., 11.5 percent; San Francisco, 12.4 percent; and New Orleans, at 12.7 percent. 

Office rents are projected to increase 2.6 percent in 2014 and 3.2 percent next year. Net absorption of office space in the U.S., which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties, is likely to total 36.2 million square feet this year and 50.7 million in 2015.

Industrial Markets 

Industrial vacancy rates are expected to fall from 8.9 percent in the third quarter to 8.5 percent in the third quarter of 2015.

The areas with the lowest industrial vacancy rates currently are Orange County, Calif., with a vacancy rate of 3.5 percent; Los Angeles, 3.8 percent; Seattle, 5.9 percent; Miami, 6.1; and Palm Beach, Fla., at 6.6 percent. 

Annual industrial rents should rise 2.4 percent this year and 2.8 percent in 2015. Net absorption of industrial space nationally is seen at 107.6 million square feet in 2014 and 104.9 million next year.

Retail Markets

Vacancy rates in the retail market are expected to decline from 9.8 percent currently to 9.6 percent in the third quarter of 2015.

Currently, the markets with the lowest retail vacancy rates include San Francisco, at 3.5 percent; Fairfield County, Conn., 3.9 percent; San Jose, Calif., 4.6 percent; Long Island, N.Y., 5.2 percent; and Orange County, Calif., at 5.3 percent.

Average retail rents are forecast to rise 2.0 percent in 2014 and 2.4 percent next year. Net absorption of retail space is likely to total 11.2 million square feet this year and 19.3 million in 2015.

Multifamily Markets

The apartment rental market — multifamily housing — should see vacancy rates slightly decline from 4.1 percent currently to 4.0 percent in the third quarter of 2015. Vacancy rates below 5 percent are generally considered a landlord’s market, with demand justifying higher rent.

Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates currently are Orange County, Calif., Providence, R.I., and Sacramento, Calif., at 2.2 percent; and two Connecticut cities (New Haven and Hartford) at 2.5 percent. 

Average apartment rents are projected to rise 4.0 this year and in 2015. Multifamily net absorption is expected to total 223,400 units in 2014 and 171,000 next year.

The Commercial Real Estate Outlook is published by the NAR Research Division. NAR’s Commercial Division, formed in 1990, provides targeted products and services to meet the needs of the commercial market and constituency within NAR.

The NAR commercial community includes commercial members; commercial real estate boards; commercial committees, subcommittees and forums; and the NAR commercial affiliate organizations — CCIM Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, Realtors® Land Institute, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, and Counselors of Real Estate.

Approximately 70,000 NAR and institute affiliate members specialize in commercial brokerage and related services, and an additional 283,000 members offer commercial real estate services as a secondary business.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

1Additional analyses will be posted under Economists’ Outlook in the Research blog section of Realtor.org in coming days at: http://economistsoutlook.blogs.realtor.org/.

The next commercial real estate forecast and quarterly market report will be released on November 24 at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the “News, Blogs and Videos” tab on the website. Other commercial information and reports are posted in the Commercial Research area of the “Research and Statistics” tab.

NAR President Steve Brown and HUD Secretary Julian Castro Share Real Insights

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – Aug 26, 2014) –  Buying a home is one of the most significant personal and financial commitments most Americans ever make. To give today’s home buyers and sellers the information they need to succeed, the National Association of Realtors® has launched Real Insights.

Today’s inaugural event featured a conversation between Julián Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and NAR President Steve Brown. Brown and Castro co-hosted the digital event, and discussed Federal Housing Administration and HUD policies that help make the dream of homeownership a reality for Americans.

“Some of the major hurdles first-time buyers experience is access to affordable credit, high mortgage premium costs and strict condo regulations,” said Brown. “Today’s discussion with Secretary Castro opened up a dialogue and allowed our members and consumers to engage in a conversation regarding developments in these areas. The Conversation with Real Insight series will continue to shine a spotlight on trends within the housing industry by connecting Realtors® and consumers with policy leaders and industry experts at the local, state and national levels.”

“The ability of Americans to find good, quality, affordable housing plays a vital role in our nation’s economic prosperity,” said Julián Castro, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “I deeply appreciate the work NAR does to help families obtain quality housing and achieve their dreams of homeownership. I look forward to working with the Realtors® to expand opportunities for all Americans.”

Topics that were discussed included mortgage availability and premium costs; access to affordable credit; strict and costly condo regulations; the benefits of homeownership; and new initiatives from FHA to help first-time home buyers, such as the Homeowners Armed with Knowledge, or HAWK, program.

Conversations with Real Insight is a new initiative from NAR that features Realtors®, policy makers and industry leaders who will provide participants with a comprehensive understanding about the important issues affecting real estate today. The series of live and online events will educate potential home buyers and arm them with the information necessary to make smart home buying decisions.

“Data is about the past; knowledge is about the future,” said Brown. “In addition to having the most accurate data, Realtors® have the experience and knowledge consumers need to succeed in local real estate markets across the country. Working with a Realtor® gives buyers and sellers the advantage they need in today’s marketplace.”

The full video of today’s event will be available at www.realtor.org.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the “News, Blogs and Videos” tab on the website. Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the “Research and Statistics” tab.

Ahead of the Bell: US new-home sales

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department reports on sales of new homes in July. The report will be released Monday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

SALES RISE: Economists forecast that sales of new homes rose 5.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 430,000, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet. In June, purchases of new homes plunged 8.1 percent to an annual rate of 406,000.

SUMMER REBOUND: Real estate sales have slumped for much of 2014, after steadily recovering from the depths of the recession. The combination of rising prices last year, stagnant wages and higher interest rates have dampened sales. But there are multiple signs that the pace of buying has recently improved, although lagging much of last year’s performance.

Sales of existing homes rose 2.4 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million, the National Association of Realtors reported last week. That’s the fourth consecutive monthly increase and the highest annual rate since September of last year.

The report showed that “distressed” sales are making up a lower share of purchases. Sales are distressed when they are the result of foreclosures or involve homes for which the seller owed more on their mortgage than the home was worth.

Distressed sales accounted 9 percent of the purchases in July — the lowest share since the association began tracking the figure in October 2008. Distressed sales, which tend to drag down neighborhood prices, accounted for 36 percent of sales in 2009.

Separately, construction starts climbed 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 million homes, the government said. Applications for building permits, a gauge of future activity, also rose last month.

Also, the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo’s index of builder sentiment rose in August to 55, up two points from a revised 53 for July. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as improving.

At the same time, price gains have started to slow and mortgage rates have dropped since the start of 2014. That could help boost sales.

And the average rate for a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.1 percent this week, the lowest level this year, according to Freddie Mac. At the beginning of the year, the average rate was 4.53 percent.

National Association of Professional Women Announces Carolyn Cantin, Associate Broker at Floridian Realty Services …

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I don’t measure my success by sales but by the relationships I build along the way.

Garden City, NY (PRWEB) August 26, 2014

NAPW honors Carolyn Cantin of Floridian Realty Services, LLC as a 2014 Professional Woman of the Year for leadership in real estate services with this prestigious distinction. As the largest, most-recognized networking organization of women in the country, spanning virtually every industry and profession, the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) is a powerfully vibrant networking community with over 600,000 members and more than 300 Local Chapters.

“Every one of my clients is unique and special, and that is exactly how I treat them,” says Carolyn Cantin. A high percentage of her business comes from past clients – from people who choose her services time and again. “I don’t measure my success by sales but by the relationships I build along the way,” says Ms. Cantin, whose clients come from all walks of life.

Originally from the state of Massachusetts, Ms. Cantin and her family relocated to Sarasota in 1982. When she retired from nursing she decided to embark on a new career in real estate. After working as a realtor, she eventually obtained her broker’s license and joined Floridian Realty where she is now an Associate Real Estate Broker specializing in bank-owned, short sales, residential sales, luxury homes, first-time home buyers, distressed properties and relocation properties.

Ms. Cantin provides real estate services to Charlotte and Sarasota Counties. She is also 2015 President Elect of the Englewood chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors and contributes to numerous local charities.

NAPW’s mission is to provide an exclusive, highly advanced networking forum to successful women executives, professionals and entrepreneurs where they can aspire, connect and achieve. Through innovative resources, unique tools and progressive benefits, professional women interact, exchange ideas, advance their knowledge and empower each other.

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Woodlands real estate company names new CEO



Cindy Hamann Headshot

Cindy Hamann was named the new CEO and team leader for Keller Williams Realty The Woodlands. Hamann comes to Keller Williams from Coldwell Banker United Realtors and will be the chairwoman of the Houston Association of Realtors in 2017.









Paul Takahashi
Reporter- Houston Business Journal

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Keller Williams Realty The Woodlands and Magnolia named Cindy Hamann has the real estate company’s new CEO and team leader.

Hamann was the vice president and branch manager for Coldwell Banker United Realtors between 2001 and 2014. Coldwell Banker was ranked No. 1 in HBJ’s Largest Houston-area Residential Real Estate Brokerage Firms List last year, ranked by gross dollar volume of home sales in 2012.

Keller Williams The Woodlands was ranked No. 9 on the same HBJ List.

Hamann, a 14-year real estate veteran, comes to Keller Williams with a wealth of leadership experience in the Texas real estate industry. She is the regional vice president of the Texas Association of Realtors and serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Realtors. Hamann also is on the Houston Association of Realtors’ executive board of directors and will be HAR’s chairwoman in 2017.

Bruce Kink, the operating principal of Keller Williams Realty The Woodlands and Metropolitan-Galleria offices, said Hamann’s “business acumen and leadership will help grow” the company’s real estate agents and services.

“With the addition of Hamann, we are excited about the possibilities of expansion in our office,” Kink said in a statement.

Hamann said she chose to join Keller Williams Realty because of its national reputation and a new opportunity for “personal growth.”

“I love setting large goals for our office and agents,” Hamann said in a statement. “Working with Bruce will be an exciting ride ahead.”

Paul Takahashi covers residential and multifamily commercial real estate for the Houston Business Journal.




NAR report: US existing home sales up 2.4 percent in July

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Sales of existing homes in the U.S. in July accelerated to their fastest rate in nearly a year amid a strengthening housing market, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) report released Thursday.

Sales of existing homes, which account for the biggest part of the market, climbed 2.4 percent to an annual pace of 5.15 million units in July, the highest mark since September 2013, according to NAR. The rate of sales in June was slightly revised down to 5.03 million.

Last month’s rate of sales was the fastest in 2014, but remained 4.3 percent below the level in year-ago month, which was the highest number last year.

In July, the median existing-home price stood at $222,900, higher by 4.9 percent from the year-earlier level. July was the 29th straight month of year-over-year gain in price.

The inventory of previously owned homes available for sale climbed 3.5 percent to 2.37 million by end-July, representing a 5.5-month supply at the current pace of sales.

NEW FICO FORMULA PROBABLY WON’T HELP

You may have noticed the big media splash recently when Fair Isaac, developer of the iconic FICO credit score, announced the debut of a new score version that no longer would penalize consumers who have medical debt-collection issues in their credit files.

Steve Brown, president of the National Association of Realtors, was so enthusiastic about the new score’s potential that he predicted it would “make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans who have been shut out of the housing market or forced to pay higher mortgage interest rates because of flawed credit scores.”

Wow. Break out the Champagne, right? Maybe not so fast. What nobody mentioned about the score, dubbed FICO Score 9, is that most homebuyers aren’t likely to see any direct benefit from it anytime soon, very possibly not for years.

That’s because the two dominant financing sources in the mortgage market — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not planning to use the new score in evaluating loan applicants for the foreseeable future. And major banks and mortgage companies aren’t jumping to adopt it either.

None of this detracts from the merit or potential value to consumers of FICO’s new score. The company says that by separating out medical debt-collection issues — which are commonplace negatives in millions of consumers’ credit files — from other types of collection actions, the FICO 9 model will more fairly rank the actual risks posed by some applicants compared with others. For borrowers whose sole major negative credit file account is an unresolved medical debt, Fair Isaac estimates the new model will increase scores by a median 25 points.

FICO 9 also is designed to more fairly treat applicants who have limited accounts on file with the credit bureaus — often young, first-time homebuyers or consumers who have made minimal use of credit cards and other forms of personal credit.

So on the surface, the advent of the new score is a big deal. But here’s the real world: New FICO score models only matter in the mortgage market if lenders choose to use them to evaluate applicants. And, based on my discussions with leaders in the mortgage field, FICO 9 is a long way off from adoption. It’s not likely to help many buyers anytime soon, despite the hype.

Start with Fannie and Freddie, the giant mortgage investors. Both use, and have confidence in, FICO scores from model changes dating between 2004 and 2008. Both tell me they are still in the process of evaluating whether to even use FICO 8, now 6 years old and the last big, consumer-friendly model change. Neither company can provide timelines on when even that set of earlier scoring advances will become part of their underwriting systems, much less FICO 9.

Major mortgage lenders feel the same way.

Asked whether and when it planned to use the new FICO score, JPMorgan Chase, one of the highest volume lenders, declined to comment. Wells Fargo, the largest originator of home mortgages, also declined to predict when it might take a look at FICO 9, but said “our view is that credit decisions are more complex than a credit score alone.” Some bankers note that they already ignore or discount negative medical debt items on applicants’ credit reports and say a scoring change won’t have much of an impact on approvals and rejections.

US existing home sales rise for 4th straight month – Omaha World

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of existing U.S. homes rose for the fourth straight month in July to their highest level in nearly a year, the latest sign that the housing recovery is picking up after stumbling at the start of the year.

The National Association of Realtors says home sales rose 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million, the highest since last September.

More homeowners are selling their homes, mortgage rates remain low and home price gains have slowed this year. That’s made home purchases more affordable.

Sales peaked in July 2013 and then fell as interest rates rose from low levels. Harsh winter weather also slowed sales earlier this year. As a result, July’s sales are still 4.3 percent lower than a year ago. They also remain below the 5.5 million considered consistent with a healthy housing market.

Still, the rise in home sales comes after other encouraging data show that the housing market is improving. Steady job gains and rising consumer confidence have led more Americans to purchase homes. That’s a contrast from earlier this year, when weak sales and limited homebuilding led economists to peg housing as a missing piece of the economic recovery. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen recently told Congress that housing has been disappointing this year.

But new-home construction surged 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million homes, the government said Tuesday.

And applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, also showed strength in July, advancing 8.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.05 million after declining in the prior two months.

Separately, the sentiment index from the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo rose in August to 55, up two points from a revised 53 for July. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as improving.

“For those getting a bit antsy about the state of the housing market recovery, this rounds out a trio of better-than-expected reports that point to improving activity through the early summer months,” said Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The Realtors report also showed that healthy sales make up an increasing share of purchases. Fewer home sales stem from foreclosures or involve homes where the seller owed more on their mortgage than the home was worth. Those “distressed” sales made up just 9 percent of sales in July, the lowest proportion since the Realtors began tracking the figure in October 2008. Distressed sales, which are usually at much lower prices, made up 36 percent of sales in 2009.

The number of homes for sale rose 3.5 percent in July from June to 2.37 million, the most in nearly two years. That gives buyers more choices and restrains price gains. The median time that homes remained on the market was 48 days, up from 42 a year ago.

First-time homebuyers made up 29 percent of sales, up slightly from the previous month and the second straight gain. Still, that’s far below the typical figure of 40 percent. First-time buyers are critical to fueling any housing recovery, as they enable current homeowners seeking to buy larger homes to sell.

First-time buyers are recovering slowly from a low of 26 percent earlier this year. They are likely benefiting from strong job gains. Hiring since February has been at the healthiest pace since 2006.

Home prices are increasing at a slower clip, which should help ease affordability pressures.

Data provider CoreLogic said that prices rose 7.5 percent in June compared with 12 months earlier. That’s the smallest year-over-year gain in 20 months.

And average rates for 30-year mortgages fell to 4.12 percent from 4.14 percent, mortgage company Freddie Mac said last week. Mortgage rates are below recent peaks of about 4.5 percent at the beginning of the year.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

US existing home sales rise for 4th straight month

More homeowners are selling their homes, mortgage rates remain low and home price gains have slowed this year. That’s made home purchases more affordable.

Sales peaked in July 2013 and then fell as interest rates rose from low levels. Harsh winter weather also slowed sales earlier this year. As a result, July’s sales were still 4.3 per cent lower than a year ago. They also remain below the 5.5 million considered consistent with a healthy housing market.

Still, the rise in home sales comes after other encouraging data show that the housing market is improving. Steady job gains and rising consumer confidence have led more Americans to purchase homes. That’s a contrast from earlier this year, when weak sales and limited homebuilding led economists to peg housing as a missing piece of the economic recovery. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen recently told Congress that housing has been disappointing this year.

But new-home construction surged 15.7 per cent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million homes, the government said Tuesday.

And applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, also showed strength in July, advancing 8.1 per cent to an annual rate of 1.05 million after declining in the prior two months.

The Realtors report also showed that an increasing share of sales are healthy ones. Fewer home sales stemmed from foreclosures or involved homes where the seller owed more on their mortgage than the home was worth. Those “distressed” sales made up just 9 per cent of sales, the lowest proportion since the Realtors began tracking the figure in October 2008. Distressed sales, which are usually at much lower prices, made up 36 per cent of sales in 2009.

Home prices are increasing at a slower clip, which should help ease affordability pressures.

Data provider CoreLogic said that prices rose 7.5 per cent in June compared with 12 months earlier. That’s the smallest year-over-year gain in 20 months.

And average rates for 30-year mortgages fell to 4.12 per cent from 4.14 per cent, mortgage company Freddie Mac said last week. Mortgage rates are below recent peaks of about 4.5 per cent at the beginning of the year.

U.S. Housing Recovery Appears Back on Track

Washington — A fourth straight monthly increase in sales of existing homes provided the latest evidence that the U.S. housing market is rebounding from a weak start to the year.

Housing has been a drag on an otherwise strengthening economy, in part because a harsh winter delayed many sales. But Americans are stepping up purchases as more homes have been put up for sale. And low mortgage rates and moderating price gains have made homes more affordable.

“The momentum is in the right direction,” said Andrew Labelle, an economist at TD Bank who noted that the past four months have marked the fastest four-month sales gain since 2011. “Sustained jobs gains, as well as the fall in mortgage rates since the beginning of the year, appear to have unleashed at least some pent-up demand.”

Sales of existing homes rose 2.4 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That was the highest annual rate since September of last year.

The increase follows other encouraging signs that the housing market is improving. The pace of home construction starts surged 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 million homes, the government said this week. Applications for building permits, a gauge of future activity, also strengthened last month.

And a survey of homebuilders released Monday showed that they were more confident about future sales.

The encouraging readings contrast with reports earlier this year, when weak sales and limited building led economists to characterize housing as a faltering piece of the economic recovery. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer had pointed to housing as an economic weak spot.

Economists noted that housing still hasn’t fully recovered from its slowdown earlier this year. The annual sales pace remains 4.3 percent below last July’s rate. And construction has merely returned to its pace in October; it has yet to exceed it.

Yet economists say they’re encouraged by signs that the latest sales gains are sustainable.

Stephanie Karol, an economist at IHS Global Insight, said a “virtuous cycle” is emerging: More homeowners are listing their properties for sale. A greater supply of homes then encourages more potential buyers to take the plunge. And that, in turn, helps sustain modest price gains, which lead more people to sell.

“This is exactly the sort of pattern we want to see,” Karol said.

The number of homes for sale rose 3.5 percent in July from June to 2.37 million, the most in nearly two years.

Affordability is improving. The median price slipped a bit in July from June to $222,900, the Realtors said. Though that was still 4.9 percent more than a year ago, year-over-year price gains have slowed.

And the average rate for a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.1 percent this week, the lowest level this year, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac. At the start of the year, the average rate was 4.53 percent.

A study released Thursday by data provider Zillow found that home buyers paid just 15.3 percent of their incomes on the mortgage for a typical home in the April-June quarter. That’s much lower than the 22.1 percent share during the housing bubble that ended in 2006.

The Realtors report also showed that healthy sales make up a rising share of purchases. Fewer home sales stem from foreclosures or involve homes for which the seller owed more on their mortgage than the home was worth.

Those “distressed” sales made up just 9 percent of sales in July — the lowest proportion since the Realtors began tracking the figure in October 2008.

Distressed sales, which tend to drag down neighborhood prices, had made up 36 percent of sales in 2009.

Many distressed sales were made to investors, including private equity firms. They bought large numbers of homes and drove up overall sales in 2011 and 2012.

Ron Peltier, CEO of HomeServices America, a real estate brokerage affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway, noted that those sales weren’t sustainable.

“We were seeing sales in clumps,” he said. “Now we’re seeing sales the good old-fashioned way: One at a time.”

First-time homebuyers made up 29 percent of sales in July, up slightly from June and the second straight gain. Still, that’s well below the typical figure of 40 percent. First-time buyers are critical to a housing recovery, in part because they enable homeowners seeking to buy larger homes to sell.

First-time buyers are likely benefiting from strong job gains. Hiring since February has reached its healthiest pace since 2006. But first-timers also face higher credit standards and down-payment requirements, making it harder for many to qualify for mortgages.