Home Sales Tick Up, Rising for First Time in 5 Months

Couple meeting with real estate agent in front of home
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The volume of home sales rebounded a bit in June, ending a four-month downturn as more houses finally hit the market.

Sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops grew to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million in June, 1.4% higher than in May and the first monthly increase since January, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. At the end of June, housing inventory stood at 1.25 million units, up 3.3% from May but still down 18.8% from a year earlier.

“Home sales appear poised to strengthen in the second half of the year as the housing market moves back into balance,” Charlie Dougherty, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in a report. “The supply picture should continue to improve as higher prices bring out more sellers.”

Residential real estate sales soared during the first seven months of the pandemic, bolstered by ultra-low mortgage rates and the growing need for more space to accommodate working from home. But the dwindling supply of homes on the market couldn’t keep up, and the relatively slim pickings—not to mention sky-high prices—have taken a toll on the monthly pace of sales. 

Now the pendulum may be swinging back. New construction and more interest from prospective sellers are boosting the inventory of homes on the market, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the realtor group.  At the current seasonally adjusted sales pace, buyers would exhaust every single-family home on the market in 2.4 months—a measure that’s still quite low by historic standards but up slightly from May’s 2.3 months and the highest since last fall. 

The median sale price continued to shoot up, rising 3.7% to $363,300 in June from $350,300 in May. 

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