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Data: National Association of Realtors, FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of homes available for sale is rising, which is good news for prospective buyers who have been getting priced out of the market.

Why it matters: Home prices finally started to pull back in July as inventories rose. Prices had been surging over the last year as low mortgage rates and the sudden desire for more space caused housing demand to outstrip new supply.

By the numbers: Total housing inventory stood at 1.32 million units at the end of July, according to the National Association of Realtors. This was a 7.3% gain from June.

  • This was the sixth straight month of increases. Inventory is now 28% higher from its February low of 1.03 million.
  • Still, that's down 12% from its 1.50 million level a year ago.

What they’re saying: "Limits to available inventory and high prices are some of the factors likely responsible for the recent cooling in housing activity relative to several months ago," JPMorgan economist Daniel Silver says.

  • The median home was priced at $359,900 in July, down from $362,800 in June.
  • "With more homes on the market, price appreciation has moderated ever so slightly, taking price gains down a notch from the mesosphere to the stratosphere," Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner says.

Yes, but: As the chart above shows, inventories are still very low. Meanwhile, the pace of existing-home sales is up 1.5% from a year ago, and the median home price is still up 17.8% during the period.

Between the lines: Conditions are not even across the housing market.

  • "The current dearth of inventory is worse in the affordable segment of the housing market," ADP chief economist Nela Richardson tells Axios. "This is also where many first-time buyers, who tend to drive the housing market, are looking."

What to watch: Home sales volumes are likely to move sideways through the end of the year, Oxford Economics lead U.S. economist Nancy Vanden Houten says.

  • "Going forward, the market for existing homes will be supported by strong demand and mortgage rates that remain relatively low," she writes.
  • "However, inventory remains lean despite the increase in July, and that will keep a floor under home prices, which are unaffordable for many prospective buyers."

Go deeper

Rent prices increased sharply in September

Source: FRED (Index: 1982-1984=100); Chart: Axios Visuals

A new red flag showed up in Wednesday’s Consumer Price Index: The amount that Americans pay for shelter rose sharply in September.

Why it matters: Rent is a big-ticket item — it’s the single largest monthly expense for many people. And when rent rises, it tends to be somewhat sticky.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 ... Speaker Pelosi, 81 ...  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 ... and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO blames predecessors for manufacturing woes

Axios on HBO

When it comes to Intel's recent manufacturing problems, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger places the blame squarely on his predecessors — many of whom he notes were not engineers deeply steeped in chip technology, as he is.

Why it matters: Gelsinger has announced a broad plan to reinvigorate Intel by doubling down on manufacturing. However, the strategy depends on the venerable semiconductor giant recovering from recent stumbles.

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