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Existing-Home Sales Rise 13.5% Year-Over-Year: NAR

Low-balling appraisals, job loss, and denials for mortgage applications helped scuttle closed contracts over October, which crept forward by a seasonally adjusted 13.5 percent more than figures seen for the same month last year, according to the ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR).

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The trade group reported closed sales for single-family homes, town homes, and condominiums rising to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million over October, down from revisions for 4.90 million over September.

""Lawrence Yun"":http://www.realtor.org/research/chief_economist_bio, chief economist with NAR, attributed still-low figures in a ""statement"":http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2011/11/ehs_oct to a ""higher rate of contract failures"" responsible for helping delay a recovery.

He said that NAR members reported that their contract failures rose to 33 percent in October, up from 18 percent

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over September and 8 percent from the year before.

""Home sales have been stuck in a narrow range despite several improving factors that generally lead to higher home sales such as job creation, rising rents and high affordability conditions,"" he said. ""Many people who are attempting to buy homes are thwarted in the process.""

NAR tracked one trend it called positive: a continuing decline in housing inventory. The number of houses on the market underwent a 2.2-precent squeeze, falling to 3.33 million existing homes available.

Cash buyers sopped up 29 percent of all October purchases, largely unmoved from earlier percentages recorded in October last year.

Of these, investors picked up 18 percent of all homes in October, not far above 19 percent seen in September and the same recorded in October last year.

The national median existing-home price leveled out at $162,500 over October, reflecting a 4.7-percent fall below levels seen in October last year.

""The modest rise in existing home sales in October may reflect the recent improvements in economic activity and the labour [sic] market,"" ""Paul Diggle"":http://www.capitaleconomics.com/staff/property-economics/paul-diggle.html, a property economist with ""Capital Economics"":http://www.capitaleconomics.com/, said in a note.

""But a sustained and significant recovery in home sales is just not on the cards when large numbers of potential buyers are constrained by negative equity and tight credit conditions,"" he added.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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