Existing-home sales fall for 3rd straight month

  • In this March 6, 2018, photo, a sign advertises the pending sale of a home in San Jose, California. Economists expect that sales of previously occupied U.S. homes edged higher in June. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

By Josh Boak The Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sales of existing homes fell 0.6 percent in June, the third straight monthly decline, as higher prices and a limited listings sidelined would-be buyers.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.38 million. Over the past year, home sales fell 2.2 percent.

Many Americans face home prices rising at roughly double the wage pace. Sales of entry-level homes worth less than $250,000 fell amid a constrained inventory — and the decline accounts for nearly all of the annual drop in home sales. The number of homes for sale rose on an annualized basis for the first time since mid-2015, a sign the 3-year downward spiral in inventories may end.

“This ongoing issue will likely lead to more affordability headwinds for those trying to buy a home in the months ahead,” said Sam Khater, chief economist at mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

The number of homes on the market increased 0.5 percent from a year ago to 1.95 million. The median sales price in June increased 5.2 percent.

Higher costs are most pronounced in the West, where the median sales price has jumped 10.2 percent over the past year to $417,400. Those increased prices corresponded with a 5 percent sales drop in the West. Home prices in the West increased roughly three times faster than other parts of the United States, reflecting high land costs and booming local economies in San Francisco, Denver and Seattle.

Sales fell in the South, but rose in the Midwest and Northeast.

Sales of homes worth less than $250,000 declined nationwide over the year, a sign middle class and first-time buyers are priced out. Sales of homes worth over $1 million surged 7.6 percent this year.

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