U.S. Home Sales Decline But Still Near Record Level

Sales of existing U.S. homes -- including single-family houses, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops -- declined 2.6% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.16 million units from an upwardly revised record 7.35 million units in June, the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported on August 23.

Although July's sales rate was less than the 7.25 million units that economists generally had expected, its was still the third highest on record. The second highest sales rate was 7.18 million units in April of this year. July's rate "is a big number any way you slice it, and housing is continuing to stimulate the overall [U.S.] economy," says David Lereah, NAR's chief economist.

In July home prices continued to rise, again in double digits. Last month the national median price for all existing homes was $218,000, up 14.1% from $191,000 in July in July 2004.

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