Existing home sales slow down

By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Following a couple of months of gains, sales of existing homes retreated again in October, an industry report said Tuesday.

The National Association of Realtors reported that the number of homes sold fell 2.2% from September to an annual rate of 4.43 million. The rate was down 25.9% from 12 months earlier.

The report came in just about at expectations. A consensus of experts surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast an annualized sales rate of 4.42 million.

"The housing market is experiencing an uneven recovery," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Still, sales activity is clearly off the bottom and is attempting to settle into normal sustainable levels."

Home sales have been slow despite some of the best buying conditions in many years: interest rates near 4% for 30-year fixed-rate loans, the most affordable home prices in many years and a wide choice of homes available for house hunters.

The median price of all existing homes sold during the month was $170,500, down 0.9% compared with 12 months earlier. About a third of the market was in distressed properties, repossessed homes and short sales.

Mike Larson, a housing market analyst for Weiss Research, said that positive and negative forces have been offsetting each other, leaving a market in limbo.

"You have low home prices and interest rates on the one hand, but trouble getting financing on the other," he said. "And unemployment remains stubbornly high."

The struggling economy certainly has dampened housing market performance, with unemployment well above 9% nationally. The job outlook seems to have brightened a bit lately.

"Based on current and improving job market conditions, and from attractive affordability conditions, sales should steadily improve to healthier levels of above 5 million by spring of next year," said Yun.

For months now, neither prices nor sales volume have been moving strongly in one direction or another, according to Larson.

"That followed years of the market either being very good or very bad," he said.

There's still fear among buyers, but the market's steadiness has lessened those fears from the first years of the bust.

"Buyers are now afraid that their homes will be worth less a year from now," said Larson. "But during the bust, they were afraid their homes would become worthless."

It may take another shift in perception for markets to really take off again. If homebuyers think their properties will gain in value, that would help propel sales forward.  To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.06%4.28%
15 yr fixed3.17%3.24%
5/1 ARM3.52%3.41%
30 yr refi4.04%4.19%
15 yr refi3.15%3.18%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
  • Find Homes for sale
    Real estate and homes for sale on Trulia

  • Property Type
  • Find a home in: New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
  • Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,063.13 -16.44 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,571.59 13.89 0.30%
S&P 500 1,998.93 2.19 0.11%
Treasuries 2.34 0.00 0.09%
Data as of 11:04am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 102.43 0.18 0.18%
Bank of America Corp... 16.04 0.03 0.19%
Intel Corp 34.68 0.03 0.09%
Facebook Inc 74.54 0.69 0.93%
Applied Materials In... 22.87 0.07 0.31%
Data as of 10:49am ET

Sections

Russia's consumer watchdog agency is forcing McDonald's to close 12 outlets across the country over accusations of sanitary violations. More

The bad news: meat prices are up from last year. The good news: beverage prices aren't. More

Netflix told the FCC that its speed on the Comcast network became so slow that customers began dropping their service. More

Whether you've got wanderlust or an airline grievance, here are some apps to pack onto your phone. More

Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from: What they would do differently if they had another chance. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.