Total housing inventory at the end of July rose 5.6% to 2.28 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from June. Listed inventory is 5% below a year ago, when there was a 6.3-month supply.

The average time on the market was 42 days, up from 37 in June. It is still an extremely tight market; about 45% of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.

First-time home buyers are still being left behind in this housing recovery, accounting for only 29% of transactions, same as in June. They accounted for 34% of transactions a year earlier.

Cash purchases continue to hold a large share, though investor activity is showing signs of declining. Cash sales accounted for 31% of total sales, same as in June. Individual investors accounted for 16% of sales, down from a peak of 22% in February this year.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.

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