July Existing Home Sales, Available Inventory Tumble

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales in July fell by 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million from a downwardly revised total of 5.51 million in June.

The consensus estimate called for sales to reach 5.57 million, according to a survey of economists polled by Bloomberg. Total sales in 2016 came in at 5.45 million, surpassing 2015’s total of 5.25 million as the most sales since 2006, when 6.48 million homes were sold.

The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said:

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. Contract activity has mostly trended downward since February and ultimately put a large dent on closings last month.

Housing inventory decreased by 1% in July to 1.93 million homes, equal to a supply of 4.2 months, down from a 4.3-months supply in June, and has fallen year over year for 26 consecutive months. Inventory is down 9% year over year from 2.11 million in July 2016.

According to the NAR, the national median existing home price for all housing types in July was $258,300, up 6.2% compared with July 2016, the 654th consecutive month of rising home prices. In June the national median price was also $263,800.

The percentage of first-time buyers was unchanged at 33% in July, and also flat compared to June 2016. For all of 2016, first-time buyers accounted for 35% of sales.

Sales of single-family homes fell 0.8% from the June total of 4.88 million to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.84 million, and it is up 1.7% compared with July 2016. Sales of multifamily homes decreased by 4.8% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 600,000 units.

All homes were on the market for an average of 30 days in July, up from 28 days in June and down from 36 days in July 2016. Foreclosure (4%) and short (1%) sales accounted for 5% of all July sales, up from 4% in June and unchanged from a year ago.

The NAR also reported the following regional data:

  • July existing-home sales in the Northeast plunged 14.5% year over year to an annual rate of 650,000, down 1.5% compared with July 2016. The median price in the region was $290,000, up 4.1% compared with last July.
  • In the Midwest, existing-home sales tumbled 5.3% to an annual rate of 1.25 million in July and were 1.6% lower than July 2016 sales. The median price in the Midwest was $205,400, up 5.9% from a year ago.
  • Existing-home sales in the South rose 2.2 in July to an annual rate of 2.28 million, and they are 3.6% higher than July 2016 sales. The median price in the region was $227,700, up 6.7% from a year ago.
  • Existing-home sales in the West jumped 5% to an annual rate of 1.26 million in July and were 5% higher than July 2016 totals. The median price in the West was $373,000, up 7.6% compared with the July 2016 median.