Sales of existing homes fell in September after a strong gain in August, but remain well above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The report –a key indicator of overall economic strength - measures the changes in the annualized number of existing residential buildings that were sold during the last month.
Total existing-home sales fell 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million in September from an upwardly revised 5.06 million in August, but are 11.3 percent above the 4.41 million unit pace in September 2010. Economists estimated sales of 4.93 million for the month.
“Existing-home sales have bounced around this year, staying relatively close to the current level in most months,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
Yun said the market has been stable although at low levels, and there is plenty of room for improvement.
“The irony is affordability conditions have improved to historic highs and more creditworthy borrowers are trying to purchase homes, but the share of contract failures is double the level of September 2010,” Yun said. “Even so, the volume of successful buyers is higher than a year ago and is remaining fairly stable – this speaks to an unfulfilled demand.”
Unless Congress reinstates the higher loan limits, Yun said the overall housing market recovery will be slower than it otherwise could be, and will hold back the broader economic recovery.
The Commerce Department is scheduled to release next week its report on new home sales for September. In August, new home sales came in at an annual rate of 295,000.