Existing home sales bounce back in June, as home prices hit new highs

Home sales activity bounced back in June after a four-month decline as home prices continue to hit new highs.

Existing home sales rose 1.4% to a seasonally adjusted 5.86 million in June, from a month earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The results missed analyst expectations of a 1.7% gain and 5.9 million units, according to Bloomberg consensus, but remain above activity seen before the COVID-19 pandemic when typically 5.5 million units are sold in a month. Existing home sales are up 22.9% from a year ago, when some states were still in lockdown. Sales activity was up in three of the four regions of the U.S.; in the South the number of sales was unchanged. 

“The housing market remains strong,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Supply has modestly improved in recent months due to more housing starts and existing homeowners listing their homes, all of which has resulted in an uptick in sales.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in June hit $363,300, the highest level recorded since January 1999. The results follow the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index posted the fastest price growth in more than 30 years. That index trails other home price data reports.

“At a broad level, home prices are in no danger of a decline due to tight inventory conditions, but I do expect prices to appreciate at a slower pace by the end of the year,” Yun said. “Ideally, the costs for a home would rise roughly in line with income growth, which is likely to happen in 2022 as more listings and new construction become available.”

Total housing inventory at the end of June amounted to 1.25 million units, up 3.3% from May’s inventory and down 18.8% from one year ago. Homes are being sold at a record clip of 17 days on the market. Five years ago during normal market conditions (post Great Recession and pre-COVID) homes were on the market for 30 days. Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, modestly up from May’s 2.5-month supply but down from 3.9 months in June 2020.

The modest rebound in sales activity was expected as pending home sales, which is a leading indicator of future sales, also turned around in May, increasing 8% from the previous month. Pending home sales, which typically lead existing sales, grew robustly last month, while permits, which usually lead starts, have declined in recent months, Credit Suisse recently wrote in a research note prior to the results.

Amanda Fung is an editor at Yahoo Finance.

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