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After five consecutive months of increases, pending home sales in the United States slipped in June but remained near May's level, which was the highest in over nine years, the latest data shows. Modest gains in the Northeast and West were offset by larger declines in the Midwest and South, according to the pending home sales index (PHSI) from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The index, a forward looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 1.8% to 110.3 in June but is still 8.2% above June 2014 when it was 101.9. Despite last month's decline, the index is the third highest reading of 2015 and has now increased year on year for 10 consecutive months. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that although pending sales decreased in June, the overall trend in recent months supports a solid pace of home sales this summer. ‘Competition for existing houses on the market remained stiff last month, as low inventories in many markets reduced choices and pushed prices above some buyers' comfort level,’ he explained. ‘The demand is there for more sales, but the determining factor will be whether or not some of these buyers decide to hold off even longer until supply improves and price growth slows,’ he added. According to Yun, existing home sales are up considerably compared to a year ago despite the share of first time buyers only modestly improving and he said the reason is that the boost in sales is mostly coming from pent-up sellers realizing their equity gains from recent years. ‘Strong price appreciation and an improving economy is finally giving some homeowners the incentive and financial capability to sell and trade up or down. Unfortunately, because nearly all of these sellers are likely buying another home, there isn't a net increase in inventory,’ Yun pointed out. ‘A combination of homebuilders ramping up construction and even more home owners listing their properties on the market is needed to tame price growth and give all buyers more options,’ he added. The PHSI in the Northeast increased by 0.4% to 94.3 in June, and is now 12% above a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell by 3% to 108.1 in June, but is still 5% above June 2014. Pending home sales in the South also decreased 3% to an index of 123.5 in June but are still 7.8% above last June. The index in the West increased 0.5% in June to 104.4, and is now 10.4% above a year ago. The national median existing home price for all housing types in 2015 is expected to increase around 6.5% to $221,900, which would match the record high set in 2006. Total existing home sales this year are forecast to increase 6.6% to around 5.27 million, about 25% below the prior peak set in 2005 which was 7.08 million. Continue reading →
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