The pace of sales of pre-owned U.S homes fell slightly in July but the inventory of unsold properties soared to the highest level in over 15 years as troubles in the subprime mortgage market continued to wreak havoc on the housing sector.
Home sales slid 0.2 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted 5.75 million unit annual rate, according to the National Association of Realtors.
That brought the supply of unsold homes at the current sales pace to 9.6 months' worth, the highest level on record since 1999, when the association began tracking all types of properties, such as condominiums, together with single-family homes.
The supply of single-family homes, the bulk of the inventory included in the association's data, rose to 9.2 months' worth, which was the biggest supply on hand for sale since October 1991.
"This shows that the housing downturn continues to intensify. It shows no sign of abating. Given the turmoil in the financial market from lending problems, the housing problem will continue in the months ahead," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania.