Existing homes sold in June at the fastest pace in more than eight years, and the median sales price hit a record, according to data released Wednesday.
Sales of existing homes rose 3.2% in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million, the fastest pace since February 2007, the National Association of Realtors reported. Meanwhile, the median sales price rose 6.5% over the past year to a record of $236,400.
Some buyers may be rushing to lock in mortgage rates before they rise further, according to NAR. There’s also a “solid foundation” for more home sales, given healthy jobs growth, said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a sales rate of 5.42 million for June, compared with an original May estimate of 5.35 million. On Wednesday NAR revised May’s pace to 5.32 million.
Wednesday’s report gives markets a look at how buying activity is faring during this year’s hot home-selling season. The sales pace is down about 24% from a bubble peak.
While the growing economy and jobs market, as well as still-relatively-low mortgage rates, are supporting sales, there are also challenges facing the housing sector. Lenders have strict credit standards, erected in the wake in the financial meltdown, looking to protect themselves from the financial and legal risks attached to making loans that end up going bad. Also, while the U.S. housing market as a whole is growing stronger, there are still pools of deeply distress borrowers in the country.
Elsewhere in the housing market, there are signs of uneven improvement. Recent government data showed that new home building sprang higher last month, but the gains were lopsided, led by apartment building. Construction starts in buildings with at least five units made up 41% of total new home construction in June — the largest share in 42 years.