U.S. existing home sales fall 2% in October

Nationwide existing home sales fell 2.2 percent below September’s levels last month after two straight monthly increases in sales volume, according to data from the National Association of Realtors, released today.

October’s U.S. annual sales rate for existing single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops came in at 4.43 million units, which was 25.9 percent below the 5.98 million registered in 2009, when the first-time homebuyer tax credit was still in place.

First-time homebuyers made up 32 percent of all existing-home sales last month, down from 50 percent one year ago. Meanwhile, investors made up 19 percent of last month’s homebuyers, up from 14 percent in October 2009, and all-cash sales also rose to 29 percent from 20 percent last year.

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The median sales price nationwide was $170,500 — a less pronounced year-over-year drop of 0.9 percent. At last month’s close, there had been 4.15 million existing home sales year-to-date, a decline of 2.9 percent from that point in 2009, NAR said.

“The housing market is experiencing an uneven recovery, and a temporary foreclosure stoppage in some states is likely to have held back a number of completed sales,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “Still, sales activity is clearly off the bottom and is attempting to settle into normal sustainable levels.” TRD