Existing-homes sales flat in July

Sales of existing homes basically were flat in July, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.75 million units from a revised pace of 5.76 million in June. The sales pace is 9 percent below the 6.32 million-unit level recorded in July 2006.

“Home sales probably would be rising in the absence of the mortgage liquidity issues of the past two months,” said Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “Some buyers with contracts have been scrambling when loan commitments did not materialize at the last moment, while other potential buyers are simply waiting for the mortgage market to stabilize.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 6.7 percent in July, up from 6.66 percent in June; the rate was 6.76 percent in July 2006.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $228,900 in July, down 0.6 percent from the July 2006 median of $230,200. The July 2006 number was the highest monthly price on record, according to the NAR.

Total housing inventory rose 5.1 percent at the end of June to 4.59 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from an upwardly revised 9.1-month supply in June.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the West rose 1.8 percent in July to an annual pace of 1.12 million, but were 15.2 percent below a year ago.  The median price in the West was $349,400, up 0.9 percent from July 2006.

Existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 1 percent to a level of 1.02 million in July, but are 2.9 percent lower than July 2006. The median existing-home price in the Northeast was $290,900, up 5.9 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South were unchanged at an annual rate of 2.26 million in July, but are 10.7 percent below a year ago. The median price in the South was $186,300, down 3.2 percent from July 2006.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest fell 2.2 percent in July to a level of 1.35 million, and are 5.6 percent below July 2006. The median price in the Midwest was $173,800, which is 1.8 percent below a year ago.

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