U.S. existing home sales fall in October, prices rise

Existing home sales fell nationwide in October, a decline a trade group attributed to tight inventory and declining affordability.

Sales of previously owned single-family houses, town homes, condominiums and co-ops fell 3.2% from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.12 million, the National Assn. of Realtors said Wednesday. 

It was the second-consecutive month of declines.

“The erosion in buying power is dampening home sales,” Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist said in a statement. “Moreover, low inventory is holding back sales while at the same time pushing up home prices in most of the country.”

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Still, sales are 6.0% higher than October 2012. The median sales price rose 12.8% from October of last year to $199,500 last month.

The number of homes for sale fell 1.8% from September, although slackening demand made those homes languish on the market longer. If homes continued to sell at their October rate, there would be a five-month supply.

In September, that figure was 4.9 months.  A six-month supply is considered to be a balanced market.

Sales fell in all regions. In the West, sales fell 7.1% from September. It was the only region in which sales dropped below last year’s pace.

What effect, if any, the partial government shutdown in early October had on sales is unclear. The existing sales data reflect closed sales, meaning buyers likely signed a contract one or two months earlier.


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