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Existing-Home Sales Were Down in July

Posted on September 8, 2017

Existing-home sales dropped 1.3 percent in July, led down by large declines in the Northeast and Midwest, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.

Those declines in the Northeast and Midwest beat out sales increases in the South and West.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slipped 1 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million in July from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in June.

July's sales pace is still 2.1 percent above a year ago, but is the lowest of 2017.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the second half of the year got off on a somewhat sour note as existing sales in July inched backward. "Buyer interest in most of the country has held up strongly this summer and homes are selling fast, but the negative effect of not enough inventory to choose from and its pressure on overall affordability put the brakes on what should've been a higher sales pace," he said. "Contract activity has mostly trended downward since February and ultimately put a large dent on closings last month."

The median existing-home price for all housing types in July was $258,300, up 6.2 percent from July 2016 ($243,200). July's price increase marks the 65th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of July declined 1.0 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 9.0 percent lower than a year ago (2.11 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 26 consecutive months.

Unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.8 months a year ago. 

"Home prices are still rising above incomes and way too fast in many markets," said Yun. "Realtors continue to say prospective buyers are frustrated by how quickly prices are rising for the minimal selection of homes that fit buyers' budget and wish list."

Properties typically stayed on the market for 30 days in July, which is up from 28 days in June but down from 36 days a year ago. Fifty-one percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month, the NAR said.