Existing home sales down from last month, but up big from a year ago

Sales of existing homes were down in July over June numbers, but are up dramatically over the same period in 2010.

Existing home sales, which are completed transactions on single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 3.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.67 million in July from 4.84 million in June, but are 21.0 percent above the 3.86-million-unit pace in July 2010.

July 2010 followed immediately after the expiration of the first-time homebuyers credit, so the rate was artificially depressed as buyers had rushed to complete their purchases by June 30.

“Affordability conditions this year have been the most favorable on record dating back to 1970, but many buyers are being held back because banks are offering financing to only the most highly qualified borrowers, ignoring a large share of otherwise creditworthy buyers,” said National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Those potential buyers represent the difference between an uneven recovery and a much more robust housing market that could stimulate additional economic activity and create jobs.”

The national median for all housing types was $174,000 in July, down 4.4 percent from July 2010. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales typically sold at deep discounts – accounted for 29 percent of sales in July, compared with 30 percent in June and 32 percent in July 2010.

Existing inventory, which represents the number of homes currently on the market, fell 1.7 percent to 3.65 million in July. But at the current sales pace, that represents a 9.4-month supply, up from a 9.2-month supply in June.

Single-family home sales fell  4 percent to an annual rate of 4.12 million in July from 4.29 million in June.  That rate is still 21.5 percent above the 3.39 million single-family home sales in July 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $174,800 in July, down 4.5 percent from a year ago.

In the Northeast, existing-home sales jumped 2.7 percent to an annual level of 750,000 in July and are 19.0 percent above July 2010. The median price in the Northeast was $245,600, down 6.8 percent from a year ago.

Western states were hit the hardest this month as existing home sales fell 12.6 percent to an annual pace of 1.04 million. Despite the drop, the number was still 16.9 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $208,300, down 7.1 percent from July 2010. Existing home sales down from last month, but up big from a year ago