RTTNews - Existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in June, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Thursday, with sales increasing by more than economists had been expecting.

The report showed that existing home sales rose 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised rate of 4.72 million in May. Nonetheless, sales were down 0.2 percent compared to the 4.90 million-unit level in the same month a year ago.

Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.84 million unit rate from the 4.77 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun was hopeful about the gain, noting, The increase in existing-home sales occurred in all major regions of the country.

While existing home sales in the West increased by 6.4 percent, sales in the South and the Northeast increased by 4.0 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. Existing home sales in the Midwest increased by a more modest 0.9 percent.

We expect a gradual uptrend in sales to continue due to tax credit incentives and historically high affordability conditions, Yun said.

NAR added that total housing inventories fell 0.7 percent to 3.82 million existing homes available for sale at the end of June from 3.85 million homes for sale at the end of May. Inventories were down 14.9 percent compared to June of last year.

June inventories represent a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 9.8-month supply in May. This marks the lowest months-supply rate since a matching rate in December.

Yun said, This is another hopeful sign - if we can keep the volume of sales above the level of new inventory, prices could stabilize in many areas around the end of the year.

While the report also showed that the national median existing-home price was down 15.4 percent year-over-year in June at $181,800, prices were up 4.1 percent compared to May. Prices were at their highest level since October of 2008.

The report also showed that existing single-family home sales rose 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 4.32 million units in June, while existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 14.0 percent to an annual rate of 570,000 units.

Next Monday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release its report on new home sales in the month of June. The report is expected to show that new home sales rose to an annual rate of 350,000 in June from a 342,000 unit rate in May.

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