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US home-price gains cool in another sign of market's slowdown

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US home-price gains slowed nationwide in the second quarter as sales slipped and an increase in listings gave buyers more choices, the National Association of Realtors said.

[WASHINGTON] US home-price gains slowed nationwide in the second quarter as sales slipped and an increase in listings gave buyers more choices, the National Association of Realtors said.

The national median price of an existing single-family home was US$269,000, which is up 5.3 per cent from the second quarter of 2017, the group said in a report Wednesday. The pace slowed from the first quarter, when prices climbed 5.7 per cent. Prices climbed in 161 of 178 metropolitan areas measured, with 13 per cent of regions having double-digit gains, down from 30 per cent in the previous three months.

The US housing market, after years of price gains that outpaced incomes, is showing signs of cooling. Buyers, who face rising mortgage rates as well as higher purchase prices, are thinking twice before overpaying. And more homeowners put properties on the market in June, reversing three years of year-over-year inventory declines.

Total existing-home sales, including single-family and condos, dropped 1.7 per cent from the first quarter, to an annual rate of 5.41 million, according to the Realtors group.

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"Solid economic growth, a healthy labor market and the large millennial population should be driving home sales much higher," Lawrence Yun, the group's chief economist, said in the report. "There's still a chance for sales to break out this year. However, with mortgage rates trending higher, it will only happen if supply levels improve enough to cool the speedy price growth in a majority of the country."

About 1.95 million previously owned houses were available for purchase at the end of June, up 0.5 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Realtors group.

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