After stumbling

After stumbling in April and May, existing-home sales continued to slip in June compared to the month before, according to the latest monthly report from the National Association of Realtors.

Completed sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops dipped 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.77 million in June from 4.81 million in May, the report said. Sales fell 8.8 percent compared to June 2010, the scheduled closing deadline for a federal homebuyer tax credit program.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in a statement that there was "an unusual spike" in contract cancellations last month.

"The underlying reason for elevated cancellations is unclear, but with problems including tight credit and low appraisals, 16 percent of NAR members report a sales contract was canceled in June, up from 4 percent in May, which stands out in contrast with the pattern over the past year," Yun said.

The national median price for existing homes rose 0.8 percent year-over-year last month, to $184,300. Distressed properties, typically sold at a discount, made up 30 percent of sales in June, down from 31 percent in May and from 32 percent in June 2010, the report said.

Total unsold inventory increased 3.3 percent to 3.77 million — a 9.5-month supply at the current sales pace, the report said. That’s a slight jump from a 9.1-month supply in May.

According to a separate NAR survey, cash buyers accounted for 29 percent of purchases in June, down from 30 percent in May and up from 24 percent in June 2010, the report said.

First-time buyers made up 31 percent of sales, down from 36 percent in May and from 43 percent in June 2010. Investors made up 19 percent of sales, up from 13 percent in June 2010. Repeat buyers saw a seasonal bump in market share to 50 percent from 45 percent in May.

Sales in the Northeast declined the most both year-over-year (17 percent) and month-to-month (5.2 percent), to an annual pace of 730,000 in June. The region’s median price rose 3.1 percent compared to June 2010, to $261,000.

In the Midwest, sales rose 1 percent month-to-month, but fell 14 percent year-over-year to an annual rate of 1.04 million. The region saw the biggest drop in median price year-over-year (5.3 percent), to $147,700.

In the South, the median price remained virtually flat year-over-year, at $159,100. Sales rose slightly month-to-month (0.5 percent), but fell 5.6 percent compared to June 2010, to an annual rate of 1.86 million.

The West saw the biggest year-over-year jump in price (9.5 percent), to $240,400. Sales declined 1.7 percent month-to-month and 2.6 percent year-over-year in the region, to 1.14 million.

Nationwide, sales in every price range except for homes under $100,000 declined year-over-year in June. All regions except the Northeast saw increases in that price range with the West seeing a whopping 61.2 percent rise.

In the Northeast, sales in all price ranges except homes above $1 million fell by double digits. Sales of homes above $1 million in that region remained virtually flat.

In the Midwest and South, sales of such high-end homes rose 3.6 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Out of 18 metro areas tracked by NAR, sales rose year-over-year in five: Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (24.5 percent); Phoenix (22.5 percent); Atlanta (7.7 percent); Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas (3.1 percent); and San Antonio (1.6 percent).

The rest saw sales drop year-over-year in June. Six metros saw sales fall by 10 percent or more: Philadelphia (-29.6 percent); New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (-17.7 percent); Cincinnati (-16.5 percent); Boston (-12.8 percent); Washington, D.C. (-10.7 percent); and Baltimore (-10.2 percent).

Prices fell in 12 out of 18 metro areas. St. Louis saw the biggest drop, down 14.9 percent to $137,400; followed by Atlanta, down 14.7 percent to $104,100.

Prices rose in six metros: Cincinnati (up 5.6 percent, to $137,300); Washington, D.C. (3.8 percent, to $359,200); San Antonio (3.6 percent, to $148,700); New Orleans (2.3 percent, to $166,000); Houston (1.6 percent, to $162,200); and Dallas-Fort Worth (0.4 percent, to $156,000).

A separate report released today by the California Association of Realtors found that pending home sales in the state rose year-over-year in June for the second straight month.

Pending home sales — based on home purchase contracts signed but not yet closed — rose 4.4 percent compared to June 2010, according to CAR’s Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI). The index was 119, up 1.9 percent from May.

The share of distressed homes sold in the state remained flat both month-to-month and year-over-year in June, at 47 percent. REOs (bank-owned properties) accounted for 27 percent of sales, up slightly from 25 percent in June 2010, while short sales accounted for 19 percent, down from 21 percent in June of last year.

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