Interest Rate Roundup

Thursday, July 23, 2009

June existing home sales climb 3.6%

The housing market data has taken on an improving tone of late. The June existing home sales report was no exception. Let's get to the details ...

* Existing home sales gained 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units from a downwardly revised 4.72 million in May. That was roughly in line with forecasts for a reading of 4.84 million and roughly unchanged from 4.9 million a year earlier. It's also the highest level since October.

* Single-family sales rose 2.4%, while condo and cooperative sales surged 14%. By region, sales rose across the board. They inched up 0.9% in the Midwest, rose 2.5% in the Northeast, climbed 4% in the South, and jumped 6.4% in the West.

* The raw number of homes for sale dipped 0.7% to 3.823 million units from 3.851 million in May. That was also good for a drop of 14.9% from a year earlier. The months supply at current sales pace indicator of inventory fell to 9.4 from 9.8. Single family inventory dipped to 8.9 from 9.1 and condo inventory slumped to 13.4 from 15.6.

* The median price of an existing home climbed 4.1% to $181,800 from $174,700 in May. That was down 15.4% from $215,000 in the year-ago period.

Less bad. That's how I'd describe the housing market. We're seeing sales rates steadily and gradually climb at the same time the supply of homes for sale is falling. We're also seeing the pace of home price declines ease up. None of this is great news. But it's a noticeable -- and welcome -- change from the freefall we witnessed in 2007 and 2008. The stabilization stems from several factors: Home affordability has improved in many markets to the point that buyers are being enticed off the sidelines. The government is continuing to subsidize the flow of mortgage credit. And economic deterioration has moderated.


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