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U.S. existing home sales fall for second straight month



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US home sales fell for the second month in a row in April, amid a weakness in the lowest-priced segment of the market, which suffers from a severe shortage of property.

PHOTO OF THE ARCHIVE: a house for sale in Santa Monica, California, USA. UU., March 21, 2017. REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson

The report by the National Association of Real Estate Agents on Tuesday added to weak retail sales and industrial production data by suggesting that the economy was losing momentum after receiving a temporary boost from exports and a buildup of inventory in the market. first trimester.

Sales of existing homes fell 0.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million units last month. The March sales pace was not revised at 5.21 million units. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast that existing home sales will rise 2.7% to a rate of 5.35 million units in April.

Sales of existing homes, which account for approximately 90% of home sales in the United States, fell by 4.4% from the previous year. That was the fourteenth year-on-year decrease in home sales.

According to the NAR, there was a 10% drop over the previous year in house sales with a price of $ 100,000 and lower. The Realtors group said there was strong demand in this market segment, but there were not enough homes available for sale. The inventory of homes in this price range decreased by 17.3% compared to the previous year.

The NAR said last year's renewal of the US tax code. UU., Which reduced the amount of mortgage interest payments that owners could deduct, was affecting the sales of homes whose price was $ 1 million or more. There has been a sharp drop in sales in high tax states such as New Jersey and Connecticut.

The general weakness in the housing market is despite the lower mortgage rates. According to data from mortgage financing company Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to an average of 4.07% from a seven-year high of approximately 4.94% in November.

This follows a recent decision by the Federal Reserve to suspend its three-year monetary policy adjustment campaign.

The PHLX housing index was trading higher, following a US stock market. UU Widely firmer. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies. The prices of US Treasury bonds fell.

TIGHT SUPPLY

The supply of housing remains scarce, especially at the lower end of the market due to the shortage of land and labor. Last week, the government reported that permits to build single-family homes fell for the fifth consecutive month in April, touching its lowest level since November 2016.

A survey conducted last week also showed that while single-family home builders were the most optimistic in seven months in May, they complained that they "continue to deal with the shortage of labor and lots in progress and the costs of materials in increase that are delaying supply and hurting affordability. "

Last month, sales of existing homes fell in the northeast and the south. They remained unchanged in the midwest and rose in the west.

In April, there were 1.83 million previously owned homes on the market, compared to 1.67 million in March and 1.8 million a year ago. At the pace of April sales, it would take 4.2 months to deplete current inventory, compared to 3.8 months in March.

A supply of six to seven months is seen as a healthy balance between supply and demand. The median of the existing home price increased 3.6% from the previous year, to $ 267,300 in April.

Last month, homes for sale generally stayed on the market for 24 days, the shortest since May 2011 when the NAR began to track the series, compared with 36 days in March and 26 days in the previous year. About 53% of the homes sold in April were in the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers accounted for 32% of sales last month, compared to 33% in March and a year ago. Economists and real estate agents say that a 40% share of buyers is needed for the first time for a solid housing market.

Report of Lucia Mutikani; Edition by Andrea Ricci

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