More Americans purchased previously-owned homes in July, suggesting improvement in the beleaguered housing market over the summer.
Existing home sales rose 2.3 percent last month, with sales rising to a seasonally adjusted annual of to 4.47 million units, up from 4.37 million units in June, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That was just below analysts’ expectations of a 4.52 million-unit rate. Sales were 10.4 percent above the 4.05 million-unit pace in July 2011.
Low interest rates and a modest improvement in the labor market helped home buying conditions, the NAR said.
“Mortgage interest rates have been at record lows this year,” said the NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun, adding that the labor market was also showing signs of improvement.
“Combined, these factors are helping to unleash pent up demand,” he said. “However, the market is constrained by unnecessarily tight lending standards and shrinking inventory supplies, so housing could easily be much stronger without these abnormal frictions.”
The NAR said it is asking the government to expeditiously release the foreclosed properties it owns in inventory-constrained markets.
In June, sales declined 5.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million.
Wednesday’s housing number could be a sign of strength for the housing market, which is beginning to recover from the after-effects of the financial crisis.