Existing-home sales maintained their downward march for the fourth straight month in July, marking their most sluggish pace in more than two years, the National Association of Realtors  (NAR) reports. Of all the major regions, the West was the sole one to post an uptick in July sales.
All told, existing-home sales—completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops—backpedaled 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in July from 5.38 million in June. Including last month’s drop, sales today stand at 1.5 percent below a year ago and have dipped on annual basis for five months in a row, NAR says.
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com, weighed in on NAR’s report, noting that July sales dropped despite measured improvement in total June inventory.
“While data from Realtor.com shows that pricier markets are seeing greater availability of homes for sale, the mismatch between the price of what’s available and what homebuyers are looking for is holding back sales this year,” she said.
Steady home-price gains have also helped steadily shrink demand, said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR. “Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing-home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million,” he said. “Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market.”
Accounting for all housing types, the median existing-home price in July was $269,600, up 4.5 percent from July 2017 ($258,100). Last month’s increase represents the 77th straight month of year-over-year growth, NAR notes.
Total housing stock at the close of July declined 0.5 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale. That figure is unchanged from a year ago. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory sits at a 4.3-month supply—also flat from the prior year.
By and large, properties sat on the market for 27 days in July, up a digit from 26 days in June but down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-five percent of houses sold in July stayed on the market for under a month, the report  indicated.
Although sale prices continue climbing, the growth rate has dampened since earlier this year, Hale says. That chasm, she said, could spell change ahead: “While list prices remain quite elevated, up 9 percent from a year ago, this gap could be indicative of a shift in the market, and sellers will want to take note.”