Americans are finding it a little easier to sell a home these days. The National Association of Realtors reports that existing home sales rose 3.6% in June to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.9 million homes. That’s up from a 4.7 million rate in May.
The association cited tax credits for new homebuyers and low interest rates. The rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.42 percent in June from 4.86 percent in May; but that was still down from 6.32 percent in June 2008. An NAR survey in June showed first-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of transactions.
Total housing inventory at the end of June fell 0.7 percent to 3.82 million homes, which represents a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace. That’s down from a 9.8-month supply in May. The total inventory is 14.9 percent below a year ago.
“The increase in existing-home sales occurred in all major regions of the country,” the association’s chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “This is another hopeful sign – if we can keep the volume of sales above the level of new inventory, prices could stabilize in many areas around the end of the year.”
The stock market thought so too. It is up today.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.