U.S. home sales slide on canceled contracts

Sales of existing U.S. homes slid last month after a sudden surge in canceled contracts, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors today.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the trade organization, said he wasn’t sure of the reason for the cancellations, but said the tight credit market, low appraisals, uncertainty about the economy and the outcome of the federal debt ceiling debate may have contributed to the “unusual spike.” A survey of the trade organization’s members indicated that 16 percent of respondents had a sales contract canceled for a single-family home, townhouse, condominium or co-op in June, up from 4 percent who said that had happened in May.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Those failed transactions resulted in a 0.8 percent decline in the nationwide home sales pace last month, to an annual rate of 4.77 million. That rate is also 8.8 percent below that of June 2010 — the deadline for closings under the federal homebuyer tax credit program — when 5.23 million existing U.S. homes were selling per year.

“Pending home sales were down in April but up in May, so we may be seeing some of that mix in closed sales for June,” Yun added.

Meanwhile, the median sales price for existing homes sold last month rose slightly — by 0.8 percent — on a year-over-year basis, and stood at $184,300 as of the end of June. — Sarabeth Sanders