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Small Gains Spark Faint Hope in Housing Market


Latest News > Industry News

October 27 — Despite minor gains, malaise in the U.S. housing market continues, with no clear sign of significant improvement, based on three new reports this week.

New home sales in September rose 6.6% versus the previous month, to an annual rate of 307,000, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. However that modest improvement leaves the market hovering near the low of 282,000 in May, reached on the heels of the expiration of federal tax incentives for home buyers in April. The rate in August was 288,000. September sales were 21.5% below those of September 2009.

Most analysts say the persistently weak employment picture is the main cause of struggling home sales.

Existing home sales increased 10% in September, says the monthly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Existing home sales increased 7.3% in August, versus the previous month.

But this apparently good news was tempered by a steep decrease in existing home prices—3.5% on average, a 3.3% median decline—which was the likely driver of the sales increase.

The supply of homes for sale declined to 10.7 months, but remains in the vicinity of the record high. The number of homes for sales fell in September, but was up 8.9% over September 2009.

Similarly, the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index 10-city composite slipped 0.2% in August after remaining flat in July. The Index is based on single-family home resales in metropolitan areas around the U.S.

Read the U.S. Census Bureau news report.

Read the NAR existing homes news release. or see a video report from NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.