Sales of existing single-family homes fell 5% in July to the lowest level since January 2004, while sales of condominiums and cooperatives rose 2.8%, according to the National Association of Realtors.The NAR reported that total sales of single-family homes, condos, and co-ops fell 4.1% from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.60 million in June to 6.33 million in July. Inventories of existing homes rose to a 7.3-month supply -- the highest since April 1993. NAR chief economist David Lereah said he believes sellers have to lower their prices to attract buyers, which means house prices are likely to decline over the next few months. "As a result, there could be some lift in home sales, but it'll likely take some months for price appreciation to rise," Mr. Lereah said. He also noted that the recent quarter-point drop in the 30-year mortgage rate could stimulate sales. The NAR economist attributes the pickup in condo sales to more aggressive pricing. Annual price appreciation on condos was down 1% in July, while prices of single-family homes are up 1.5% since July 2005. Sales of single-family homes have declined 11.4% since last July, when house prices were rising at a 14.6% annual rate.

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