June Sales of Existing Homes Reach 8-Month High

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales in June rose 2.6% to 5.04 million from an upwardly revised total of 4.91 million in May.

Sales are down 2.3% year-over-year for the month. The sales pace is the highest since last October, when the rate hit 5.13 million.

The consensus estimate called for sales to reach 4.99 million, according to a survey of economists by Bloomberg.

Housing inventory rose 2.2% in June to 2.3 million homes, which is equal to a supply of 5.5 months, slightly lower than the 5.6-month supply in May. Unsold inventory is up 6.5% compared with June 2013, when there were 2.16 million existing homes for sale.

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According to the NAR, the national median existing home price in June was $223,300, up 4.3% compared with June 2013. The past June marked the 28th consecutive month of rising home prices.

NAR's chief economist said:

Inventories are at their highest level in over a year and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels in many parts of the country. This bodes well for rising home sales in the upcoming months as consumers are provided with more choices. On the contrary, new home construction needs to rise by at least 50 percent for a complete return to a balanced market because supply shortages -- particularly in the West -- are still putting upward pressure on prices.

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Sales of single-family homes rose 2.5% from May at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million, down 2.9% compared with June a year ago. Sales of multifamily homes increased 3.4% year-over-year at an annual rate of 610,000.

Foreclosed and short sales accounted for 11% of June sales, flat with the May total and down 15% compared with June 2013. Foreclosures sold at an average 20% discount to the June median price, while short sales sold at a discount of 11%.

Existing, non-distressed homes were on the market for an average of 44 days, while foreclosed homes were on the market for an average of 54 days and short sales took a median of 120 days to sell.

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