September saw the highest level of existing home sales in nearly two years. Sales rose 5.5% in September over the August 2008 figures. This increase is the first time since November 2005 that sales have risen over the prior month’s performance.
The National Association of Realtors reports that the increase represents sales of single family homes, townhouses, condominiums and cooperatives. This pace reflects a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18 million units sold. This is an increase of 1.4% over the same period in 2007. The median price of existing homes fell to $191,600 during September which is down from $210,500 in September 2007. The Association also reports that 35-40% of all transactions were the result of Foreclosures and other distressed sales. The movement in the foreclosure properties and the reduction in the prices have seen a dramatic decrease in available properties. Inventory of residential properties fell 1.6% in September to 4.27 Million units. That number still reflects a larger than desirable inventory however the trend seems to be heading downward for inventory supply. The drop in inventory represents the second month in a row that the inventory has declined since the peak of the excess properties in July 2008.
In the Southern Region of the country, which includes Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, sales rose 2.2% and the median price was down 4.1%. Wall Street market worries continue to play a role in the housing market and the credit crunch is just starting to loosen from the economic bailout legislation. However, this sales increase is a positive sign for sellers and price reductions bringing properties back to a more affordable range is good news for buyers.