October 23, 2013
Existing home sales fell nearly 2 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.3 million, according to the National Association of Realtors.
But that's still nearly 11 percent above the pace for September 2012 -- the 27th month in a row that existing home sales were higher than what they were a year earlier.
Home prices also remained higher than what were 12 months ago -- the national median price for all types of existing homes was $199,200, up nearly 12 percent from September 2012.
"Affordability has fallen to a five-year low as home price increases easily outpaced income growth," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. "Expected rising mortgage interest rates will further lower affordability in upcoming months. Next month we may see some delays associated with the government shutdown."
For example, the shutdown delayed tax transcripts need for mortgage approvals. That "put a monkey wrench in the transaction process and could negatively impact sales closings in next month's report," said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif.
In addition, higher flood insurance rates that went into effect Oct. 1 also could reduce sales in flood zones, he noted.
The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 4.46 percent in August to 4.49 percent in September, the highest rate since July 2011.