Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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


Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.09%4.03%
15 yr fixed3.25%3.18%
5/1 ARM3.42%3.29%
30 yr refi4.12%4.07%
15 yr refi3.29%3.19%
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 19,827.25 94.85 0.48%
Nasdaq 5,555.33 15.25 0.28%
S&P 500 2,271.31 7.62 0.34%
Treasuries 2.47 0.01 0.33%
Data as of 6:27am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 22.64 0.11 0.49%
General Electric Co 30.53 -0.68 -2.18%
Bristol-Myers Squibb... 49.23 -6.26 -11.28%
CSX Corp 44.33 -1.18 -2.59%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 6.69 0.07 1.06%
Data as of Jan 20

Sections

Shares of several uranium miners are soaring this year on hopes that Donald Trump will commit more investments to nuclear power. But investors need to get careful. The stocks are as volatile as radioactive elements. More

President Trump promised to 'buy American and hire American.' He says his policies will create 25 million new jobs, the most of any U.S. president in history. CNNMoney lays out just how hard that will be. More

Apple is suing Qualcomm for allegedly charging 'excessive royalties' and withholding payments in retaliation for Apple cooperating with a regulatory investigation into the chip supplier. More

If you're smart about when you first claim Social Security, you can increase your benefits and reap the rewards for the rest of your life. More