Existing Home Sales and Prices Decrease Slightly

Existing home sales decreased 1.7% in September from August, but were up 11.0% from the same period a year ago. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that September 2012 total existing home sales were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.75 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. That compares to an upwardly revised 4.83 million units in August and 4.28 million units during the same period a year ago.

The September 2012 level of single-family existing sales decreased to a seasonally adjusted 4.21 million sales, down 1.9% from a revised 4.29 million sales in August, but up 10.8% from 3.80 million units during the same month a year ago. Seasonally adjusted condominium and co-op sales remained unchanged at 540,000 units in September 2012 after an upward revision to August sales. This level is up 12.5% from the 480,000 units a year ago.

The total housing inventory at the end of September decreased 3.3% from the previous month to 2.32 million existing homes for sale. At the current sales rate, the September 2012 inventory represents a 5.9-month supply which is down from a revised 6.0-month supply in August, and very much improved from the 8.1-month supply of homes a year ago. NAR reported 24% of September 2012 sales were distressed, defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. This level was up from 22% in August, and down from 30% a year ago. The median sales price for existing homes of all types in September 2012 was $183,900, down from a revised $184,900 in August, but up 11.3% from $165,300 during the same period a year ago.

In September 2012, all cash sales increased to 28% of transactions from 27% in August, but were down from 30% during September a year ago. Investors accounted for 18% of September 2012 home sales, unchanged from August and down from 19% in September a year ago. First-time buyers accounted for 32% of September 2012 sales, up from 31% in August and unchanged from the same period a year ago.

The August 2012 Pending Home Sales Index decreased 2.6%.  So it was expected that existing home sales would decrease in September. Next month’s existing sales are expected to remain consistent with the pattern between existing home sales and the Pending Home Sales Index



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