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05/11/2008
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JillSavva

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Existing home sales last month remained high over last year, though levels did ease off after four consecutive months of gain, according to a report issued by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The NAR reports that existing home sales decreased 2.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.10 million units. This is lower than the 5.24 million pace set in July, though is 3.4 percent higher than the 4.93 million level from August 2008. Over the last four months, existing home sales had gone up a total of 15.2 percent. Why the decrease last month? According to NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, “The first-time buyer tax credit is having the intended impact of bringing buyers into the market, allowing them to take advantage of very favorable affordability conditions. Some of the give-back in closed sales appears to result from the rising numbers of contracts entering the system, with some fallouts and a backlog contributing to a longer closing process, but the decline demonstrates we can’t take a housing rebound for granted.” Last month, first-time home buyers purchased 30 percent of homes. Additionally, distressed homes accounted for 31 percent of transactions. By the end of last month, an 8.5-month supply of existing homes were available for sale, which is a decrease from the 9.3-month supply in July. Compared to last year, unsold inventory totals are 16.4 percent lower. Additionally, the national median existing home price fell 12.5 percent year-over-year to $177,700. Sales of single-family homes dropped 2.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.48 million, compared to a rate of 4.61 million in July. Condo and co-op sales fell 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 620,000 units last month, just under the 630,000 rate in Juloy. - Jill Kipnis, Move Trends Editor Email: Jill Kipnis@Move.com