Despite gains in the West and South, existing home sales fell for a second consecutive month, declining 1.3 % in July, but remained 2.1% above the pace a year ago. Some 51% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month as buyers overcame low inventory and higher prices. July inventory declined 1.0%, and is now 9.0% lower than a year ago, having fallen year-over-year for the 26th consecutive month. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that at the current sales rate, the July unsold inventory represents a 4.2-month supply, down from a 4.8 -month supply a year ago. July existing sales reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.44 million units. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.
July existing sales increased 5.0% in the West and 2.2% in the South, but fell 5.3% in the Midwest and 14.5% in the Northeast. The same regional split applied to year-over-year changes, as the West and South increased 5.0% and 3.6% respectively, while the Midwest and Northeast declined 1.6% and 1.5% respectively.
Homes stayed on the market for 30 days in July, up slightly from 28 days in June, but down from 36 days in July 2016. The July first-time home buyer share was 33%, up from 32% in June and a year ago.
The July all-cash sales share was 19%, up from 18% in June but down from 21% a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 13% share of sales in July, unchanged from June.
The July median sales price fell from $263,300 last month to $258,300, but was up 6.2% from last year, representing the 65th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The July median condominium/co-op price fell from $246,000 last month to $239,800, but was up 5.3% from a year ago.
NAR reported that although June pending sales increased, an insufficient inventory continued to hamper sales. Builder confidence posted a large gain in August, but single-family starts were flat in July, and new home sales faltered after an encouraging spring. However, the economy keeps adding jobs, and the first-time buyer continues to enter the market.