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US existing home sales slide in June Washington

[WASHINGTON] Sales of existing US homes dipped in June, squeezed by a tight market struggling to keep up with demand, according to industry figures released Monday.

The slide in sales reversed May's rebound, as unsustainable price growth helping drive down closings, the National Association of Realtors said in its monthly report.

"The demand for buying a home is as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said.

"Listings in the affordable price range continue to be scooped up rapidly but the severe housing shortages inflicting many markets are keeping a large segment of would-be buyers on the sidelines."

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Sales of existing homes last month fell 1.8 per cent from May, to an annual rate of 5.52 million, seasonally adjusted. That was more than double the 0.7 per cent decline Analysts had predicted.

The median home price set a new record as it jumped 6.5 per cent over June 2016 to US$247,600, marking 64 months of year-on-year price gains.

Meanwhile, inventory of homes available for sale fell 0.5 per cent to 1.96 million, 7.1 per cent below the same point last year, with the 12-month measure falling for 25 straight months.

The sales pace depressed inventory even further, to a 4.3 month supply, down from 4.6 months in the same month of last year.

With job creation steady for the better part of a decade and many millennials ready to move out of their parents' homes, demand for homes has risen sharply in the current economic recovery.

But with barriers to construction, including a tight labour supply, builders drawn to serve a hot rental market and a large share of suitable single-family homes held by investors, supply has failed to keep pace with demand, observers say.