July 25, 2005

Existing home sales hit record high

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes rose 2.7
percent in June to a record pace as home prices soared 14.7
percent from a year ago, the biggest jump in nearly 25 years, a
trade group said on Monday.

Sales of previously owned homes surged to a seasonally
adjusted 7.33 million unit annual rate last month from May's
upwardly revised 7.14 million unit clip, the National
Association of Realtors said. That figure includes both
single-family homes and condominiums.

Analysts had expected overall sales to increase to a 7.15
million unit annual pace.

The national median home price rose to $219,000, also a
record, the report showed.

Single-family home sales climbed 2.4 percent to a record
6.37 million unit annual rate from the 6.22 million unit rate
in May. Condo sales hit a fourth consecutive record, up 4.5
percent to a 960,000 unit rate from a 919,000 unit pace in May.

"Obviously, the housing market is hot right now," said
David Lereah, the group's chief economist.

Low mortgage rates have supported robust housing activity
for more than four years. While many economists earlier
forecast some slowing in home sales this year, many have now
bumped estimates higher and now see 2005 striking a record.

In fact, Lereah said he would likely push his 2005
forecasts higher for total existing home sales and median home

Mortgage rates in June fell to 5.58 percent from 5.72
percent in May, the trade group said, citing mortgage finance
company Freddie Mac.

Inventories rose 3.8 percent to 2.653 million, representing
4.3 months' worth, the group said.