U.S. home sales to lowest level since 1990s

U.S. existing home sales tumbled last month to their lowest levels in more than a decade, according to a monthly report from the National Association of Realtors, released today. Home sales — including single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops — were at an annual rate of 3.83 million units in July, down 27.2 percent from 5.26 million in June and 25.5 percent from 5.14 million at this time last year, the report says. Meanwhile, the share of home sales to first-time buyers dipped to 38 percent, down from 43 percent in June, while investors’ share increased to 19 percent from 13 percent the month before. July was the first month following the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credit, which doled out $8,000 each to first-timers who closed by June 30 and helped to boost summer sales. Analysts had therefore expected grim results for July, and Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said slow sales are likely to continue through September. Still, home prices remained relatively steady, up 0.7 percent since last July to a median of $182,600. Striking a hopeful note, Yun added that “the pace of a sales recovery could pick up quickly, provided the economy consistently adds jobs.” TRD

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