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Existing Home Sales Hit Fastest Pace This Year



According to a report issued Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales rose to their fastest pace of the year in September, surging 2.4 percent from August's pace to an annual pace of 5.17 million units. The surge was bigger than the expectations of economists, who had projected an annual pace of 5.1 million units in a recent Bloomberg poll. Despite the surge, however, sales are still down 1.7 percent in year-over-year terms. It was the strongest pace since last September, however, prompting some optimism among economists who were still down about disappointing spring and summer selling seasons.

While an uptick in sales is always a positive, some economists continue to be concerned about the small number of first-time buyers impacting the numbers. Most economists agree that 40 to 45 percent of home sales should involve first-time buyers, but they've only accounted for 29 percent in each of the last three months. There was a positive sign for home prices, however, as investors continued to withdraw from the market last month, signaling prices are where they should be. Real estate investors accounted for just 14 percent of sales in September, down considerably from 19 percent in September 2013. Inventory of unsold homes on the market rose 6 percent year-over-year to 2.3 million, representing a 5.3 months supply at September's pace of sales. A 6-month supply is generally considered a sign of healthy balance between supply and demand.

October 23, 2014