Sales of existing single-family homes set another record in June, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing-home sales rose 2.1 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (note) of 6.95 million units from an upwardly revised level of 6.81 million units in May, which was the previous record. Last month's sales activity was 17.4 percent above the 5.92-million unit pace in June 2003.

David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said last month's performance is close to the peak for the housing market.

"Although we've been expecting sales to ease, it's clear the market has tremendous momentum," Lereah said. "The improving job market and higher consumer confidence are feeding into a large demographic demand for housing. It's unlikely that we'll top the pace in June but home sales remain very healthy and are likely to stay quite strong, even with some easing expected in the second half of the year."

NAR President Walt McDonald, broker-owner of Walt McDonald Real Estate in Riverside, Calif., said mortgage interest rates continue to surprise the market.

"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has come back down and has been hovering around 6.0 percent over the last few weeks," he said. "Considering most forecasts projected mortgage interest rates to gradually rise, this could keep the housing market from taking as much of a breather as we have anticipated-2004 is well on the way to setting an annual record."

Housing inventory levels at the end of June slipped 0.8 percent from May to a total of 2.40 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace.

The national median existing-home price was $191,800 in June, up 9.6 percent from June 2003 when the median was $175,000. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 3.5 percent in June to a record annual rate of 1.46 million units, and were 11.5 percent higher than June 2003. The median price in the Midwest was $156,600, up 7.0 percent from a year ago.

The existing-home sales pace in the West increased 3.1 percent from May to a record annual rate of 1.99 million units in June, and was up 22.8 percent from June 2003. The median existing-home price in the West was $267,600, up 10.6 percent from the same month a year earlier.

Existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.8 percent in June to a pace of 740,000 units, a record tied with September and October of 2003; sales were 12.1 percent above the same month a year ago. The median existing-home price in the Northeast was $218,900, up 15.9 percent from June 2003.

Home resale activity in the South was up 0.4 percent in June to a record annual rate of 2.76 million units and was 18.5 percent above a year ago. The median price of an existing home in the South was $179,200, which was 9.6 percent higher than June 2003.