By Andrew Jakabovics
June data for sales of existing homes continues to affirm deteriorating market conditions. Sales of existing homes in June were down 16.7 percent over last June to 4.86 million homes on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. This is the worst month reported since July 2000, but market conditions could be more different. While July 2000 marked an anomalous dip in home sales (June and August 2000 had annualized sales above 5 million), the June data shows a market continuing to slide. As of the end of July 2000, there were 1.7 million homes in inventory, which represented a 4.3-month supply of unsold homes. Today, there are nearly 4.5 million homes reported available for sale, or 11.1 months of supply. Worse, the data does not include the thousands of foreclosed properties owned by banks or slated to be auctioned off that do not appear in the Multiple Listing Service database. With expectations of continuing decline in local market conditions, the need for rapid passage of the housing bill—which offers expanded refinancing opportunities for at-risk borrowers through the Federal Housing Administration and funds for localities and nonprofits to buy up foreclosed properties at a discount—is ever more important.