Climb in Previously Owned Home Sales in July

Posted on Aug 22, 2012

Sales of existing homes probably climbed in July from an eight-month low, another sign that U.S. housing may pick up in the second half, economists said before a report today.

Purchases rose 3.2 percent to a 4.51 million annual rate, following a decline in the prior month, according to the median forecast of 73 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Buoyed by cheaper properties and record-low mortgage costs, demand for real estate is bolstering the industry that helped trigger the recession. Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, also due today, will be a reminder that policy makers are monitoring data such as housing to determine whether the world’s largest economy needs more stimulus.

“The healing in housing continues,” said Brian Jones, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York. “We’re clearly in an upturn for the sector.”

The National Association of Realtors’ report is due at 10 a.m. in Washington. Bloomberg survey estimates ranged from 4.3 million to 4.8 million, following 4.37 million June.

A drop in borrowing costs is making homes are more affordable. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.49 percent in the week ended July 26, the lowest in records dating to 1971, according to McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac.

Foreclosures are abating, though they still pose a threat as borrowers struggle to pay bills. The mortgage delinquency rate, or the share of home loans at least 30 days late, rose in the second quarter from the previous three months, the first gain in a year, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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