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VOL. 36 | NO. 24 | Friday, June 15, 2012




US home sales slipped 1.5% in May; Middle Tennessee up 20-32%

Staff and Wire Reports

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans bought fewer homes in May than April, suggesting a modest recovery in the housing market could be choppy.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of previously occupied homes dropped 1.5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million units.

This is in stark contrast to the Middle Tennessee market, which saw strong increases in May when compared to May 2011. Sales in Davidson County were up 30.1 percent, according to date from Chandler Reports. Williamson County sales were up 24 percent, while Rutherford sales increased by 32.6 percent. Wilson County was up 20.4 percent.

Sales have risen 9.6 percent from a year ago, evidence that home sales are slowly improving. Still, the pace has fallen since nearly touching a two-year high in April and it remains well below the 6 million that economists consider healthy.

The monthly decline follows a report that employers added the fewest jobs in May in a year. Weaker hiring has slowed the broader economy and could lead some to reconsider buying a home, even with record-low mortgage rates.

"Not a surprise that existing home sales took a step back in May," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. Lee noted that the level of home sales is still "descent." But she said "softening job growth could slow the housing recovery."

First-time buyers, who are critical to a recovery, made up just 34 percent of sales in May. That's down slightly from 35 percent in April. In healthy market, the number is more than 40 percent.

One positive sign: The supply of homes for sale remains low. The inventory of unsold home in May was just 2.49 million, roughly the same level as April. It would take little more than six months to exhaust the supply at the current sales pace, a ratio last seen in 2006 when the housing market was booming.

A low supply typically encourages more people to put homes up for sale. That generally improves the overall quality of the homes on the market, which drives prices higher.

The median price for a home sold in May was $182,600, up 5.1 percent from $173,700 in April. It was the highest median price since June 2010 — when sales benefited from a federal home-buying tax credit.

Home sales neared a two-year high in April, adding to other signs of modest improvement in the industry nearly five years after the housing bubble burst.

Builders are more confident and are starting to build more homes. The government reported Tuesday that builders started work on more single-family homes in May and requested the most permits to build homes and apartments in 3 and a half years.

Sales rose 1 percent in the Midwest, the only region to show an increase. Sales fell 4.8 percent in the Northeast, 3.4 percent in the West and 0.6 percent in the South.

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TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0