A continued slowdown in home price increases and ongoing improvements in inventory helped boost existing-home sales in July to their highest pace year-to-date. The National Association of Realtors reported on Thursday that sales of existing homes hit a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.15 million last month, up 2.4 percent from a downwardly revised June. Even with the most recent increase, however, sales activity remains down percent from last July’s rate of 5.38 million units, which was last year’s peak.
At the regional level, increases were led by the South, which posted a 3.4 percent monthly improvement to a rate of 2.12 million in July. The region was also the only one to see sales rise annually, reporting a half a percent bump. In the West, existing-home sales climbed 2.6 percent month-over-month, while sales in the Midwest were up 1.7 percent. Sales in the Northeast were flat from June at a rate of 640,000.
Bank of America announced it has agreed to pay a record $16.65 billion to resolve claims of financial fraud in the sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities during the years leading up the financial crisis. The agreement with the government, which comes after months of reportedly heated negotiations, is the largest civil settlement with a single entity in the history of the United States, eclipsing last year's record-setting $13 billion settlement between the Justice Department and JPMorgan Chase. In a statement, Bank of America noted the government’s claims primarily focused on conduct that occurred at Countrywide and Merrill Lynch before its acquisition of the two companies. The statement adds that the settlement is expected to cut the bank’s third-quarter pretax earnings by $5.3 billion.