More first time buyers boost existing home sales in the US

Taylor Scott International News

Boosted by a greater share of sales to first time buyers not seen in nearly four years, existing home sales in the United States maintained their upward trend in June and increased for the fourth month in a row. Only the Northeast of the nation saw a decline in sales in June and sales to investors fell to their lowest overall share since July 2009, according to the latest monthly index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Existing home sales were up 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in May. After last month's gain, sales are now up 3% from June 2015 and remain at their highest annual pace since February 2007. According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, the four month streak of sales gains through June caps off a solid first half of 2016 for the housing market. ‘Existing sales rose again last month as more traditional buyers and fewer investors were able to close on a home despite many competitive areas with unrelenting supply and demand imbalances,’ he said. ‘Sustained job growth as well as this year's descent in mortgage rates is undoubtedly driving the appetite for home purchases but looking ahead, it's unclear if this current sales pace can further accelerate as record high stock prices, near record low mortgage rates and solid job gains face off against a dearth of homes available for sale and lofty home prices that keep advancing,’ he pointed out. The index data also shows that median existing home prices for all housing types in June was $247,700, up 4.8% year on year and it means that prices have now increased for 52 months in a row and surpass May's peak median sales price of $238,900. Total housing inventory at the end of June dipped 0.9% to 2.12 million existing homes available for sale and is now 5.8% lower than a year ago while unsold inventory is at a 4.6 month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.7 months in May. The share of first time buyers was 33% in June, up from 30% in May and a year ago and is the highest since July 2012 when it was 34%. Through the first six months of the year, first time buyers have represented an average of 31% of buyers compared to 30% in all of 2015. ‘The modest bump in June sales to first time buyers can be attributed to mortgage rates near all-time lows and perhaps a hopeful indication that more affordable, lower priced homes are beginning to make their way onto the market,’ said Yun. ‘The odds of closing on a home are definitely higher right now for first time buyers living in metro areas with tamer price growth and greater entry level supply, particularly areas in the Midwest and parts of the South,’ he added. The data also shows that all cash sales… Taylor Scott International

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