Interest Rate Roundup

Monday, November 24, 2008

Existing home sales drop 3.1% in October

The National Association of Realtors recently released its latest existing home sales figures. What happened in October? Have a look ...

* Sales fell 3.1% to 4.98 million units (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate) from a revised 5.14 million in September. That was down 1.6% from 5.06 million units a year earlier.

* The inventory of homes for sale edged down to 4.234 million units from 4.272 million. The "months supply at current sales pace" indicator of inventory climbed to 10.2 months from 10 in September. Regionally, home sales dropped in all four regions -- by 1.2% in the Northeast, 1.6% in the West, 3.2% in the South, and 6% in the Midwest. Single family home sales dropped 3.3%, while condo and co-op sales slipped 1.8%.

* Home prices dropped sharply, with the median price of an existing home down 11.3% from a year earlier to $183,300. That's the biggest decline on record. Prices are also down 4.2% from September's $191,400. Home prices are now at their lowest level since March 2004 ($183,200).

There wasn't much surprising in today's existing home sales figures. Sales remain mired in the 5 million unit area, with monthly swings either way but no net progress. The weak economy, tighter credit markets, and lackluster consumer confidence are keeping most potential home buyers on the sidelines, and that's unlikely to change any time soon. Prices are falling sharply as a result, with any home price gains made since early 2004 essentially wiped out on a nationwide basis. Look for conditions to remain challenging well into next year, if not 2010.


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