Existing-Home Sales Down in September but Prices Rise

After hitting the highest level in nearly four years, existing-home sales declined in September, but limited inventory conditions continued to pressure home prices in much of the country, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million in September from a downwardly revised 5.39 million in August, but are 10.7 percent above the 4.78 million-unit pace in September 2012. Sales have remained above year-ago levels for the past 27 months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said a decline was expected. “Affordability has fallen to a five-year low as home price increases easily outpaced income growth,” he said. “Expected rising mortgage interest rates will further lower affordability in upcoming months.  Next month we may see some delays associated with the government shutdown.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.49 percent in September from 4.46 percent in August, and is the highest since July 2011 when it was 4.55 percent; the rate was 3.47 percent in September 2012.

The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $199,200 in September, up 11.7 percent from September 2012. This is the 10th consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year increases.

Distressed homes3 – foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 14 percent of September sales, up from 12 percent in August, which was the lowest share since monthly tracking began in October 2008; they were 24 percent in September 2012. Lower levels in the share of distressed sales account for some of the growth in median price.

 

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