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October 22nd, 2013

Home sales slip, but prices rise



Money houseHome sales slipped in September, but prices continued to rise as buyers in much of the U.S. found limited supplies of for-sale properties on the market, according to the latest monthly report from the National Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing detached houses, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops declined 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.29 million in September compared with 5.39 million in August. Sales volume was 10.7 percent higher than in September 2012. Monthly sales have been higher than year-ago levels for the past 27 months, NAR reported.

Sales of just detached homes slipped 1.5 percent last month but are 10.9 percent above September 2012 levels. Sales of condominiums and co-ops fell 4.7 percent but are 8.9 above September 2012.

Prices pop up again

The national median price of existing homes sold in September was $199,200, up 11.7 percent compared with September 2012, the 10th consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year increases.

The median price of detached houses sold in September was $199,300, up 11.4 percent compared with September 2012.

The median price of condominiums and co-ops sold in September was $198,600, up 14.2 percent compared with September 2012.

The national median price of condominiums and co-ops is often higher than the national median price of detached houses because condos and co-ops are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. Detached houses typically fetch higher prices than condos sold in the same area.

Bank foreclosures and short sales accounted for 14 percent of September’s sales, down significantly from 24 percent in September 2012, but up slightly from 12 percent in August, the lowest share since NAR began monthly tracking in October 2008. The smaller proportion of these so-called distressed sales accounted for some of the rise in the median price, NAR reported.

Five-month supply of for-sale homes

A total of 2.21 million existing homes were available for sale at the end of September. That figure represented a five-month supply at the September pace of sales, essentially unchanged from the 4.9 months’ supply at the end of August.

Homes sold in September were on the market a median of 50 days, up from 43 days in August and down from 70 days in September 2012.

Short sales were on the market for a median of 93 days. Foreclosures typically sold in 43 days. Non-distressed homes took 49 days. Thirty-nine percent of the homes sold in September were on the market less than a month.

Government shutdown blamed

NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., said in the statement that repeating stalemates in Washington, D.C., have consequences for housing.

“Delays in tax transcripts needed for approval of mortgage loans put a monkey wrench in the transaction process and could negatively impact sales closings in next month’s report,” Thomas said.

Some transactions were also delayed or cancelled due to concerns about new higher rates for flood insurance that became effective October 1.

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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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