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Home prices rise, sales fall on limited inventory

Total existing home sales declined 5.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million in June from 4.62 million the month before. Existing sales in June were 4.5% higher than the 4.18 million units sold a year earlier.

The month of June was somewhat of a challenge for first-time homebuyers looking to jump back into the market, pushing existing home prices higher. These same buyers created a strange dichotomy in the market, with many of them finding it difficult to locate affordable homes in the property inventory.

This lack of viable options stymied overall home sales growth in June, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. At the same time, pent-up demand and lower levels of inventory bouyed prices.

“Despite the frictions related to obtaining mortgages, buyer interest remains solid,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR. “But inventory continues to shrink and that is limiting buying opportunities. This, in turn, is pushing up home prices in many markets. The price improvement also results from fewer distressed homes in the sales mix.”

Distressed homes accounted for 25% of all June sales, unchanged from May but 30% below June 2011 levels.

The median existing single-family home price hit $190,000 in June, an increase of 8% from a year earlier. The median price on condos alone hit $182,200 in June, up 6.9% from June 2011.

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