Home/Mortgages/Housing Transactions Edge Lower in September

October 23, 2012 (Chris Moore)

Tightening housing inventories continued to hobble home sales according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) as the number of closed transactions of existing home purchases fell for the first time in three months.

Monthly existing home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.75 million transactions in September, down from 4.83 million in August, a decline of 1.7 percent. Compared to September of last year, sales were 11.0 percent higher than the 4.28 million seasonally adjusted transactions. It was the 15th consecutive month that year-over-year home sales have increased.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of NAR, stated, “Despite occasional month-to-month setbacks, we’re experiencing a genuine recovery. More people are attempting to buy homes than are able to qualify for mortgages, and recent price increases are not deterring buyer interest. Rather, inventory shortages are limiting sales, notably in parts of the West.”

Regional Home Sales:

Monthly existing home sales in the Northeast declined by 6.3 percent to an annual rate of 590,000 transactions but were still 7.3 percent higher than in September of last year, while in the Midwest, sales were 0.9 percent lower than the previous month, selling at a rate of 1.10 million annual sales, but were 19.6 percent higher than last year’s sales pace.

In the South, monthly existing home sales increased by a modest 0.5 percent in September to an annual pace of 1.93 million transactions and were 14.2 percent above September 2011’s levels, and in the West, transactions fell by 3.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.13 million sales but were 0.9 percent above last year’s sales pace.

Home Prices:

Monthly home prices declined 1.9 percent as the national median existing home price fell from $187,400 in August to $183,900 in September. The median home price in September was 11.3 percent higher than in the same month last year, the seventh consecutive month that home prices have surpassed the previous year’s levels.

The median price in the Northeast was $238,700, which was 4.1 percent higher than a year ago but down from $245,200 last month, while the median price in the Midwest was $145,200, up 7.0 percent from September of 2011 but down from $152,400 the previous month.

In the South, the median price was $163,600, a gain of 13.1 percent from a year ago and up from $160,000 last month, and in the West, the median price was $246,300, up 18.4 percent from September of 2011 and up from $242,000 the previous month.

Cash and Distressed Property Sales:

Distressed property sales accounted for 24 percent of all existing home sales in September, up from 22 percent in August but down from 30 percent in September of 2011. Foreclosure sales made up 13 percent of all existing home sales while short sales accounted for 11 percent of all existing sales.

Cash sales accounted for 28 percent of all sales in September, up from 27 in August, while investors purchased 18 percent of the homes sold in September, unchanged from August.

Housing Inventory:

The number of homes available for sale in September declined 3.3 percent to 2.32 million homes which leaves a 5.9 month supply, down from a 6.1 months supply in August. The number of homes listed for sale in September was 20.0 percent lower than last year.

Tags: existing home sales, investors, distressed property sales, declining prices, low appraisals, cancelled contracts, median home price