Sales of previously-owned homes slid to their lowest level of the year in July as the familiar dynamics of lean supply and hearty demand continue to strain the housing market.
Existing-home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That was down 1.3% from a downwardly-revised June pace. While July’s pace was 2.1% higher than a year ago, it was the lowest since last August.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 5.50 million rate.
“Homes are selling fast,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. In July, that strong demand meant listings went into contract in under 30 days. It also pushed prices higher. The median sales price in July was $258,300, a 6.2% increase compared to a year ago.
Inventory was 9% lower than a year ago, and at the current sales pace it would take 4.2 months to exhaust available supply.
One bright spot amid the tight market was first-timers, whose share ticked up to 33% from 32% in June. That’s still substantially lower than the 40% market share they’ve historically commanded, however.
In July, sales in the South rose 2.2%, and sales in the West were up 5.0%. Sales in the Midwest fell 5.3%, while in the Northeast, sales plummeted 14.5%.
Shortly after the data’s release, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
traded at the lows of the session.