According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), stubbornly low inventory in many areas of the United States hampered sales of existing homes. In fact, sales slowed in July and fell year-over-year for the first time since November 2015. During July, the West was the only region to see a monthly increase in closings.
Nationally, total existing-home sales (measuring completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops), dropped 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in July, down from June's 5.57 million. For only the second time in the last 21 months, sales now sit below (by 1.6 percent) a year ago (5.48 million).
NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said the number of existing-home sales dipped in July after climbing throughout the last four months. “Realtors® are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows” Yun said.
Key Data Takeaways
July's national median price for existing homes (all housing types) was $244,100, a gain of 5.3 percent over July 2015 ($231,800). July’s price increase makes 53 straight months of year-over-year gains.
July's total housing inventory moved slightly higher (0.9 percent) to 2.13 million existing homes available, but is still 5.8 percent below a year ago (2.26 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 14 consecutive months.
The share of first-time buyers nationally was 32 percent in July, below last month (33 percent) but higher than 28 percent a year ago.
- Based on data from Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell from 3.57 percent in June to 3.44 percent in July. Mortgage rates have now declined for five months in a row and in July were the lowest since January 2013 (3.41 percent).