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Existing home sales rose again last month, climbing to within 4.1 percent of last June’s sales. This is a vast improvement from the 30 percent year-over-year declines seen early in 2008 but it is still far below boom-time levels of activity.

The number of existing homes for sale improved even more markedly, declining during a period of typical seasonal increases to land 5.1 percent below last year’s inventory level.

The months-of-inventory figure, which measures supply against demand, has now dropped to 7.1 months, slightly below the level seen last June and well below the that seen after the credit crunch began in late 2007.

All in all, June’s supply and demand situation was the most favorable in over a year. But while overall listed inventory is on the decline, foreclosures — most of which will end up as must-sell inventory down the road — are at record levels. Time will tell which of these factors takes precedence in setting future home prices.

— RICH TOSCANO

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