NEW YORK (CNNMoney) 8/18/2011 — Sales of existing homes fell unexpectedly in July, as strict lending and low appraisals prevented consumers from scooping up some of the cheapest houses since 1970.
Sales of previously owned homes tumbled 3.5% last month to an annual rate of 4.67 million, down from 4.84 million in June, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Economists had expected July sales to come in at a much higher rate of 4.87 million homes, according to consensus estimates from Briefing.com. From the same month a year ago, sales are up 21%. Meanwhile, the national median home price in July was $174,000 — down 4.4% from a year earlier.
While the struggling housing market has made buying a home increasingly affordable for consumers, many can’t get financing from lenders to make purchases and therefore help the market recover, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.