Existing-home sales steadily increased for the third consecutive month in July, while stubbornly low inventory levels and rising prices are likely to blame for sales to first-time buyers falling to their lowest share since January, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.0%, seasonally adjusted, in July compared with June. Sales in July remained at the highest pace since February 2007, have now increased year-over-year for ten consecutive months, and are 10.3% above one year ago.
Home prices have increased enough that the “move-up” share of the market has overtaken the share occupied by first-time homebuyers. Existing homeowners can sell their homes and use their equity to buy a new home. The median existing single-family home price was $235,500 in July, up 5.8% from July 2014.
Were the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in a way that slows the growth of home prices, there might be more damage to the economy than slowing home price growth is worth, according to an interesting piece published elsewhere today. We’ve still not hit the bubble rate of home sales of 2006-2007, and while we probably don’t want to, it’s worth keeping some perspective on how good this market actually is.