Make us your home page
Instagram

U.S. exiting home sales rise 2.1 percent in October

WASHINGTON — U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose solidly in October, helped by improvement in the job market and record-low mortgage rates.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales rose 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million. That's up from 4.69 million in September, which was revised lower.

The sales pace is roughly 11 percent higher than a year ago. But it remains below the more than 5.5 million that economists consider consistent with a healthy market.

As the economy slowly recovers, more people have started looking to buy homes or rent apartments. Prices are steadily climbing, while mortgage rates have been low all year. At the same time, rents are rising, making the purchase of a single-family home or condominium more attractive.

"Altogether, the report is encouraging," said Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays Capital. "Our view is that housing is in a recovery phase," he added, though it will be restrained by limited credit and modest job gains.

The median price for previously occupied homes increased 11.1 percent from a year ago to $178,600, the Realtors said.

A decline in the number of homes available for sale is helping push prices higher. There were only 2.14 million homes available for sale at the end of the month, the lowest supply in 10 years. It would take only 5.4 months to exhaust that supply at the current sales pace. That's the lowest sales-to-inventory ratio since February 2006.

Prices are also benefiting from the mix of homes being sold. Sales of homes priced at $500,000 and above have jumped more than 40 percent in the past year. Sales of homes and condominiums that cost less than $100,000 fell 0.6 percent.

There have been other positive signals from the housing market. Applications for mortgage loans to buy homes jumped 11 percent in the week ended Nov. 9 compared with a week earlier, the Mortgage Bankers' Association said last week. Purchase applications are up 22 percent in the past year.

Builders broke ground on new homes and apartments at the fastest pace in more than four years in September. The jump could help boost the economy and hiring.

Still, the market has a long way back to full health. Many potential home buyers cannot meet stricter lending standards or produce larger down payments required by banks.

That can be a particular problem for first-time home buyers. They accounted for 31 percent of sales in October, down slightly from September and below the 40 percent that is common in a healthy market.

Builders feeling more confident

Confidence among U.S. home builders rose this month to its highest level in 61/2 years, driven by strong demand for newly built homes and growing optimism that the housing recovery will strengthen next year. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday increased to 46, up from 41 in October. That's the highest reading since May 2006, just before the housing bubble burst. Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market. The index last reached that level in April 2006. Still, it has been trending higher since October 2011, when it stood at 17.

U.S. exiting home sales rise 2.1 percent in October 11/19/12 [Last modified: Monday, November 19, 2012 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

    Teachers

    LAND O'LAKES — Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco sat together several times in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving break, trading contract proposals amid (mostly) amicable conversation.

    Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, left, hold contract talks Nov. 9, with district negotiators. The sides are nearing an agreement.
  2. Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

    Business

    Some smaller retailers will tug at shoppers' heartstrings during the holidays, trying to create an emotional experience or connection that a big national chain might not provide.

    Some smaller retailers will tug at shoppers’ heartstrings during the holidays, trying to create an emotional experience or connection that a big national chain might not provide. Keep St. Pete Local is an independent business alliance in St. Petersburg that has more than 600 members.
  3. Six years and counting: Allegiant Air reaches agreement with flight attendants

    Airlines

    ST. PETERSBURG — After six years of negotiations, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air and its flight attendants union reached a tentative contract to improve worker pay and benefits and solidify airline policies.

    Allegiant Air flight attendants picketed for a fair contract in August at various Florida airports.
  4. Fourth Street's mom and pop motels a dying breed

    Tourism

    ST. PETERSBURG — Billboards as far north as Tennessee beckoned tourists by the thousands to St. Petersburg's Fourth Street calling it "the longest motel street in the world" in the 1940s and '50s. There were 95 motels between the Gandy Bridge and Central Avenue in 1955, according to an article that year in the …

    Looking south down Fourth Street from 38th Avenue N, the street is jam-packed with motels — and El Cap.
  5. More guns being detected at Tampa Bay area airports — and everywhere else

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Here's some travel math for this traditionally heavy day for long trips: More people carrying guns plus more people flying equals more guns going to the airport.

    This is one of four guns security personnel discovered at Tampa International Airport checkpoints on April 25, 2017. Photo courtesy Transportation Security Administration