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Existing Home Sales Fall Slightly in August
Purchases Drop For Second Straight Month


Sales of existing homes declined 0.9 percent in August, and follows a 3.2 percent drop in July, both on a month-over-month basis, the National Association of Realtors reports. The NAR said a lack of inventory is to blame.

Existing home sales dropped for second straight month in August, falling 0.9 percent to 5.33 million units. This follows a 3.2 percent in July, and in both cases, economists have said a lack of inventory is the main reason sales are lagging.

The National Association of Realtors said sales are now at their second-lowest pace of 2016, but are still slightly higher (0.8 percent) than a year ago (5.29 million units).

"Healthy labor markets in most the country should be creating a sustained demand for home purchases," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. "However, there's no question that after peaking in June, sales in a majority of the country have inched backwards because inventory isn't picking up to tame price growth and replace what's being quickly sold."

The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $240,200, up 5.1 percent from August 2015 ($228,500). The NAR said August's price increase is the 54th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Housing inventory levels at the end of August fell 3.3 percent to 2.04 million existing homes, and is now 10.1 percent lower than a year ago (2.27 million). It has also declined year-over-year for 15 straight months, the NAR reports.

First-time buyers represented 31 percent of sales in August, down from 32 percent both in July and compared to a year ago. First-time buyers represented 30 percent of sales in all of 2015.

"Hopes of a meaningful sales breakthrough as a result of this summer's historically low mortgage rates failed to materialize because supply and affordability restrictions continue to keep too many would-be buyers on the sidelines," Yun said.

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July 16, 2019, 12:25 pm PDT

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