Existing single-family home sales rose 2.4% to an annualized rate of 4.32 million units in June and prices appear to be firming up as well, according to figures released Thursday morning by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The comparison is to the previous month and when measured against the same month last year, the figures aren't as promising. Sales of single-family homes (condos and cooperatives excluded) rose 0.2% compared to June 2008 and prices fell 15% (to $181,400).

NAR points out that it revised downward the May 2009 sales figure as well. Taken by themselves, the condos and cooperatives sales numbers look somewhat promising: a 14% increase from May to June but a 3.1% decline from May 2008.

In total, Realtors hope to sell 570,000 condos and co-ops this year (based on the June numbers) and are banking on the market being bolstered by state and federal tax credits for first-time home buyers.

Meanwhile, NAR is blaming the somewhat new Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) — which sets appraisal ordering rules for GSE loans — for some lost sales.

NAR says 37% of its members said they "experienced at least one lost sale as a result" of HVCC "with seven out of 10 reporting an increased use of out-of-area appraisers."

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