Existing home sales fell 2.2% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.07 million units, the lowest level since January, from an unrevised 4.16 million units in June, the National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast home sales would be little changed at 4.15 million units.
Sales fell in the Northeast, Midwest and South, but rose in the West, where home prices have fallen most sharply in the past year. All regions experienced annual sales declines.
Home resales, which account for a big chunk of U.S. housing sales, fell 16.6% on a year-on-year basis in July.
Home prices have bottomed out after being pressured by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes, but the persistent shortage of properties for sale could limit any rebound as many prospective buyers are forced out of the market.
Mortgage rates have surged again recently to the highest levels in decades, with the average rate on the popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgage topping 7% in the latest week, according to mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac.
There were 1.11 million previously owned homes on the market last month, up 3.7% from a month earlier but down 14.6% from July 2022. At July’s sales pace, it would take 3.3 months to exhaust the current inventory of existing homes, up from 3.2 months a year ago.
A four-to-seven-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand. The median existing house price rose 1.9% from a year earlier to $406,700 in July, the fourth time it has topped $400,000.