Existing-home sales fall 1.7%, constrained by high prices, low inventory

The numbers fell again after rising last month

Month to month existing-home sales dipped 1.7 percent to 5.27 million units in June, said the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on Tuesday. Year over year, sales are also down by 2.2 percent.

“Sales have struggled to achieve meaningful, consistent growth this year, despite friendly market conditions thanks to still-low mortgage rates and a strong labor market,” said Zillow economist Matthew Speakman in a statement. “Meager inventory levels, especially in the entry-level segment, and still-rising prices continue to limit the selection of homes available to more budget-conscious buyers.”

The data might also reflect consumers’ lack of confidence in the current market, or pent-up demand that will even itself out in the coming months, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Existing-home sales are down after a slight uptick in the previous month. The median price for all existing homes in May was $285,700, up 4.3 percent since last year. This marks the 88th straight month of annual gains.

“Home sales are running at a pace similar to 2015 levels – even with exceptionally low mortgage rates, a record number of jobs and a record high net worth in the country,” Yun said in a prepared statement. “Imbalance persists for mid-to-lower priced homes with solid demand and insufficient supply, which is consequently pushing up home prices.”

Inventory is also on a slight rise, at 1.93 million, and up from 1.91 million existing-homes available in May.

Properties sat on the market for an average of 27 days, up from 26 days in May and in June of 2018.

Fifty-six percent of homes sold in June were on the market for less than a month.

Mortgage rates have plunged in recent months, which should make homebuying more attractive to those in the market.

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in June was 3.80%, down from 4.45% six months earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

“Historically, these rates are incredibly attractive,” said NAR President John Smaby in a prepared statement. “Securing and locking in on a mortgage now – given the current, favorable conditions – is a decision that will pay off for years to come.

Email Veronika Bondarenko