U.S. existing home sales up year-over-year

October 20, 2011 01:29PM

Existing home sales were down in September on the heels of a strong
gain in August, but remain well above a year ago, according to a
report released today by the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing home sales declined 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted
annual rate of 4.91 million in September from an upwardly revised 5.06
million in August, but are 11.3 percent above the 4.41 million unit
pace in September 2010.

“Existing home sales have bounced around this year, staying
relatively close to the current level in most months,” said Lawrence
Yun, chief economist of the NAR. “The irony is affordability
conditions have improved to historic highs and more creditworthy
borrowers are trying to purchase homes, but the share of contract
failures is double the level of September 2010. Even so, the volume of
successful buyers is higher than a year ago and is remaining fairly
stable — this speaks to an unfulfilled demand.”

Regionally, existing home sales in the Northeast rose 2.6 percent to
an annual level of 790,000 in September and are 6.8 percent above a
year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $229,400, down 3.3
percent from September 2010.

In the South, existing home sales declined 2.6 percent to an annual
level of 1.89 million in September, but were up 10.5 percent year-over-year. The median price in the South was $144,400, down 3 percent from
September 2010.

Contract failures were reported by 18 percent of NAR members in
September, up from 9 percent in September 2010, but unchanged from
August.

Ron Phipps, president of the NAR and broker and president of Phipps
Realty in Warwick, R.I., said unbalanced access to credit was a
significant factor. “We need to remove the roadblocks to a housing
recovery Not Place more obstacles in the way of financially
qualified buyers.” — Miranda Neubauer