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Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 11:20

MNI DATA IMPACT: US Existing Home Sales Pace Picks Up in July


By Alexandra Kelley

WASHINGTON (MNI) - The pace of existing home sales rose by 2.5% to a 5.42 million annual rate in July, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday, landing above the 5.40 million forecast by an MNI survey of analysts.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun attributed the uptick to exceptionally low mortgage rates and a healthy labor market, but warned that recession fears may scare off potential buyers.

"Generally, low rates stimulate buying activity, the jobs market remains strong, but there's increasing economic uncertainty. Given that home buying is a major expenditure, people may be hesitant to buy homes if they believe we're facing an economic recession," he told reporters.

The following are the other key points from Wednesday's release:

-Year-over-year sales are up 0.6% after 17 months of decline.

-Available homes for sale in July recorded 1.89 million, down 1.6% from July 2018. A lack of inventory remains a constraint on the housing market. "The No. 1 concern our realtor members have expressed is the lack of inventory, particularly on moderately priced homes," Yun said.

-Sales by region show the West rising 8.3%, Midwest rising 1.6%, South rising 1.8%, and Northeast falling 2.9%. Yun stated the sharp rebound seen in the West home market could indicate that a more expensive home market is more sensitive to mortgage rate changes.

-The median sales price for July was $280,800, up 4.3% from a year ago and outpacing wage growth and consumer price inflation, Yun said. He anticipates low mortgage rates will help affordability issues.

--MNI Washington Bureau; +1 202-371-2121; email: jean.yung@marketnews.com

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