Existing Home Sales Fell 1.9% in September; New Home Starts Increased 5.9%

Existing home sales fell by 1.9% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.18 million units, and were 14.2% below the 7.2 million pace in September 2005, the slowest pace since January 2004, according to The National Association of Realtors. 

The inventory of unsold homes fell for a second straight month, decreasing 2.4%, to 3.75 million unsold homes at the end of September, a 7.3 months supply at the September sales pace.

Sales of single-family homes dropped by 1.6% to an annual rate of 5.42 million units while sales of condominiums fell by 3.2% to an annual rate of 763,000 units.

The median price of a single-family home fell to $219,800 last month, a drop of 2.5% from the price in September 2005, the biggest year-over-year price decline in nearly four decades. Home prices had also fallen in August and it marked the first back-to-back declines in 16 years.

Global Insights predicted that existing home sales will fall by 9% this year and will drop by an even bigger 14% in 2007.

New home starts in September increased 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,772,000, but is down 17.9% from the year ago period in September 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Single-family housing starts in September were up 4.3% to a rate of 1,426,000.

Building permits in September were 6.3% below the August levels at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,619,000. This is 27.7% below the September 2005 estimate of 2,240,000. Single-family building permits in September were at a rate of 1,207,000, a 6.0% below the August figure of 1,284,000. 

Privately-owned housing completions in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2,084,000, a 11.1% above the revised August estimate of 1,875,000 and is 7.2% above the September 2005 rate of 1,944,000. Single-family housing completions in September were at a rate of 1,732,000, a 7.1% above the August figure of 1,617,000. 

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