NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The pace of home sales slowed down in August, according to an industry report Friday, as the latest reading on the market came in weaker than Wall Street forecasts.
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The National Association of Realtors report showed existing home sales at a 6.54 million annual pace in the month, down from the 6.72 million annual sales pace in July. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com forecast that the sales would fall to a 6.65 million annual pace in the most recent period.
The group said that while the sales have slowed, they are still near historically high levels.
"Since April we've experienced three out of the four strongest months on record for existing-home sales, and August was the sixth highest," said David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, in a statement. "We're at a more sustainable level now, but long-term there should be some additional easing toward the end of the year. In fact, the August sales pace is close to what we project for total sales this year."
The sales pace has fallen 5.4 reached a record 6.92 million annual sales pace in June. The strong summer sales have been supported by low mortgage rates. While rates are higher than they were in March, when they approached 40-year lows, they again dipped below 6 percent in August. Mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac says the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 5.87 percent in August, down from 6.06 percent in July. It was 6.26 percent in August 2003.
The median sales price, which reflects the price at which half the homes sold are more expensive and half are less expensive, was $190,100 in August. That's up 7.3 percent from August 2003 when the median price was $177,200, and it's virtually unchanged from July, when the median price was $190,200. The median home price hit a record $191,000 in June.