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

Sales of previously owned homes rise in October

After a sluggish September, sales of existing homes rebounded in October, according to a report Monday.

Sales of previously owned homes, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, climbed 2.1 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. Despite the super storm that battered the Northeast and delayed some transactions, existing-home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted 4.79 million from a downwardly revised 4.69 million in September and are 10.9 percent higher than October 2011.  

“Home sales continue to trend up and most October transactions were completed by the time the storm hit, but the growing demand with limited inventory is pressuring home prices in much of the country,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement.  “We expect an impact on Northeastern home sales in the coming months from a pause and delays in storm-impacted regions.”

Even as sales picked up, the number of homes on the market fell to 2.14 million in October, leaving just a 5.4-month supply. That’s the lowest housing supply since February 2006. In the Washington region, active listings fell below the 9,000 mark in October for the first time since July 2005, according to RealEstate Business Intelligence. There were only 8,766 homes for sale at the end of last month. 

  Low inventory continues to push prices higher. The national median price for previously owned homes rose to $178,600 last month, an 11.1 percent increase from October 2011. It marks the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. In the Washington area, the median home price was $362,500 last month, according to RBIntel.  

“Rising home prices have already resulted in a $760 billion growth in home equity during the past year,” Yun said.  “Given that each percentage point of price appreciation translates into an additional $190 billion in home equity, we could see close to a $1 trillion gain next year.”

More first-time home buyers are being squeezed out of the market. They accounted for 31 percent of the purchasers last month, compared to 32 percent in September and 34 percent in October 2011.

 

By  |  11:10 AM ET, 11/19/2012

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