NAR: Existing Home Inventory Jumps in July, Sales Volume Still Off

The NAR’s existing home data for July is out today, and it shows a flat-to-declining sales volume trend, what appears to be a declining price trend, and evidence of a jump in housing supply. Sales volume slipped 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.75 million units in July from an upwardly revised pace of 5.76 million in June, and is 9.0 percent below the 6.32 million-unit level in July 2006, the NAR said. (Reports I’ve seen show that the initially reported rate beat mean analyst expectations, which is at least some good news). In terms of prices, the NAR reported that the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $228,900 in July, down 0.6 percent from July 2006 when the median was $230,200. Perhaps the largest news here, however, is that supply clearly isn’t going down: Total housing inventory rose 5.1 percent at the end of June to 4.59 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from an upwardly revised 9.1-month supply in June. Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s economic voice, said things would have looked better if Wall Street would have decided to fund some loans:

“Home sales probably would be rising in the absence of the mortgage liquidity issues of the past two months,” he said. “Some buyers with contracts have been scrambling when loan commitments did not materialize at the last moment, while other potential buyers are simply waiting for the mortgage market to stabilize.”

So it now looks like we’re past complaining about buyer psychology and/or negative media exposure this month — now it’s Wall Street’s turn to be the reason the numbers aren’t where the NAR expected them to be. That being said, there appear to be some regional differences emerging in the data, with the West and the Northeast showing some signs of resiliency while the Midwest appears to be struggling. There are also clear differences in the existing home market emerging between single-family and condo residences: single family homes evidenced a downward sales volume trend, while condos registred an upward trend. My take is pretty simple here: it’s clear that the pattern of YoY declines in sales volume is continuing, in spite of the NAR’s stubborn desire to have everyone focus on monthly comparisons. Further, as CR notes, inventory is now at a record high (something the NAR did not mention in its press statement). Depressed sales volume and increasing inventories are not the hallmark of a housing market on the cusp of recovery, IMHO.

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