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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 10/19/2012

Existing-home sales fall in September

After some encouraging news on the housing front earlier this week, a report Friday tamped down expectations about the sector’s recovery. The National Association of Realtors said that existing-home sales fell in September.


Sales of previously owned homes, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were down 1.7 percent from the previous month to 4.75 million, but up 11 percent from September 2011, which led NAR economist Lawrence Yun to reaffirm his belief in the market’s well-being.

“Despite occasional month-to-month setbacks, we’re experiencing a genuine recovery,” Yun said in a statement.  “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.”

Low inventory continues to plague the market. The number of homes for sale nationally fell 3.3 percent to 2.32 million. In the Washington metropolitan region, inventory was up slightly in September after four months of declines.

There were 9,514 homes listed for sale last month, up from 9,191 in August, according to RealEstate Business Intelligence. The number of active listings, however, is more than 6,000 below the 10-year average for September.

“The shrinkage in housing supply is supporting ongoing price growth, a pattern that could accelerate unless home builders robustly ramp up production,” Yun said.

First-time home buyers accounted for 32 percent of purchasers in September, compared with 31 percent in August.

The national median home resale price for all housing types was $183,900 in September, up 11.3 percent from a year ago. It was the largest annual gain since November 2005 and the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year gains, which last happened November 2005 to May 2006.

The median sales price in the D.C. metro region was $360,000 in September, up 6.51 percent from a year ago September but down 6.49 percent from August, according to RBIntel.

Most jurisdictions within the region had year-over-year median price gains. Falls Church led the way with a nearly 13 percent increase year-over-year. The District and Montgomery County each gained nearly 10 percent, while Arlington lost nearly 4 percent. RBIntel attributed Arlington’s decline in median sales price to the higher percentage of condo sales and a sharp drop in single-family detached home sales.

This slight setback comes on the heels of unexpectedly strong growth in home construction. The Commerce Department said earlier this week that the number of homes started surged 15 percent from August and building permits jumped nearly 12 percent from the previous month.

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By  |  11:10 AM ET, 10/19/2012

 
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