Sales of Existing Homes Decline for Fourth Straight Month

(CN) — Sales of existing homes slipped for the fourth consecutive month in July, declining 0.7 percent to the slowest pace in more than two years, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

In their latest assessment of the market, the Realtors say sales of existing homes declined in every region of the country last month except in the West, where sales increased.

The Realtors said homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.34 million. Home sales have fallen 1.5 percent during the past 12 months.

“Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million,” said Lawrence Yun, the organization’s chief economist.

“Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out, or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market,” Yun said.

The median price for all housing types in July was $269,600, up 4.5 percent from July 2017, when it was $258,100.

July’s price increase marks the 77th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of July decreased 0.5 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, unchanged from a year ago.

Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, also unchanged from a year ago.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 27 days in July, up from 26 days in June but down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-five percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.

“Listings continue to go under contract in under month, which highlights the feedback from Realtors that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties,” Yun said. “Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new home construction is not keeping up to meet demand.”

The average interest rate charged on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.53 percent last week, up from 3.89 percent a year ago, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

“In addition to the steady climb in home prices over the past year, it’s evident that the quick run-up in mortgage rates earlier this spring has had somewhat of a cooling effect on home sales,” Yun said. “This weakening in affordability has put the most pressure on would-be first-time buyers in recent months, who continue to represent only around a third of sales despite a very healthy economy and labor market.”

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