Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Real estate sales, prices stagnate in October

West, Northeast regions see highest price gains since October 2003

Existing, single-family homes edged down from September to October, while the national median price increased only slightly, the National Association of Realtors reported today.

Existing-home sales slid 0.1 percent in October, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.75 million units, but was up 5.6 percent from a 6.39-million-unit pace in October 2003. The seasonally adjusted annual rate projects a monthly total over a 12-month period.

Meanwhile, the median existing-home price was $187,000 in October, up 0.2 percent from $186,600 in September and up 8.8 percent from $171,800 in October 2003.

David Lereah, chief economist for the association, said home sales continue to exceed expectations. "The ongoing stimulus of lower-than-expected mortgage interest rates was the primary driver of strong home sales in October," he said. "Of course all of the other market fundamentals remain sound, so we should only see a modest decline from record home sales this year if mortgage interest rates gradually rise."

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 5.72 percent in October, down from 5.75 percent in September; the rate was 5.95 percent in October 2003.

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