Home sales climb in June, while price gains moderate

The U.S. housing market has been on a rollercoaster ride for much of the past several years. While homeowners, potential buyers and professionals have all had to weather the ups and downs, recent data indicates that conditions are improving.

For example, a report by the National Association of Realtors found that existing-home sales - including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops - ticked up in June. In fact, the annual pace is now over 5 million units for the first time since last fall. Overall, sales climbed 2.6 percent from May to June, although they are still 2.3 percent below levels experienced at the same time last year.

"Inventories are at their highest level in over a year and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels in many parts of the country," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. "This bodes well for rising home sales in the upcoming months as consumers are provided with more choices. On the contrary, new home construction needs to rise by at least 50 percent for a complete return to a balanced market because supply shortages - particularly in the West - are still putting upward pressure on prices."

Prices increase, but at a slower pace
While the increase in existing-home sales is a positive for the U.S. housing market, so too is the news that home price gains are more moderate as of late.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, U.S. prices only ticked up 0.4 percent from April to May. In addition, gains on a yearly level were 5.5 percent. The FHFA's House Price Index remains 6.5 percent lower than its peak in the spring of 2007, instead more in line with levels experienced in July 2005.

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