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Home sales drop 1.9 percent in September

From staff and wire reports

Americans bought fewer existing homes in September than the previous month, held back by higher mortgage rates and rising prices.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of resold homes fell 1.9 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million. That’s down from a pace of 5.39 million in August, which was revised lower.

Area home sales, meanwhile, jumped 17 percent from September a year ago, revealing that the Akron-Summit County market is seeing continued signs of recovery.

A total of 543 homes in Summit County changed hands last month, up from the 464 sold in August, according to the Akron Area Board of Realtors. Summit home sales are not adjusted for seasonal variations.

The 543 sales were the highest number for that month of the year since September 2008, according to the board’s report.

In September 2011, there were 463 homes sold in Summit, according to the board’s report.

Sale prices in Summit County were up slightly, with the median price in September rising 2.4 percent to $117,750 from $114,938 for September 2012. The median for September 2011 was $100,000.

Median means half the homes sold for a price above the number and half sold below.

Sales were up 15.2 percent in a larger Northeast Ohio area — a region that includes Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina and Cuyahoga counties.

In the 15-county area, a total of 3,120 homes were sold, up 15.2 percent from 2,708 in September 2012, according to the Northern Ohio Regional Multiple Listing Service.

The average price in the 15-county area was $137,688, close to Summit County’s average of $136, 242. The regional multiple listing service does not provide a median sale price.

Sales also increased statewide, totaling 11,269 last month. This is an 18.9 percent increase from the 9,480 sales posted in September a year ago, according to figures from the Ohio Association of Realtors. The statewide group said the September 2013 sales total is the month’s best mark since 2006.

The statewide average of $140,986 for September this year is a 2 percent increase from the $138,187 average posted in August 2012.

The Ohio association does not provide a median price.

Nationally, the sales pace in August equaled July’s pace. Both were the highest in four years and are consistent with a healthy market.

Mortgage rates rose sharply over the summer from their historic lows, threatening to slow a housing recovery that began last year and has helped drive modest economic growth.

But many economists expect home sales will remain healthy, especially now that rates have stabilized and remain near historically low levels. Final sales in September reflected contracts signed in July and August, when rates were about a percentage point higher than in May.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.28 percent last week, down from a two-year high of 4.58 percent in August. That’s also far below the 30-year average of 7 percent, according to Bankrate.com.

Sales of existing homes have risen at a healthy 10.7 percent in the past 12 months. Still, that’s the slowest year-over-year increase in five months.

And the median home price has risen 11.7 percent in the past year, the Realtors said. That’s also the slowest annual gain in the past five months.

Price increases may be slowing because more homes are finally coming on the market. The supply of available homes rose 1.8 percent from a year ago to 2.21 million, the first year-over-year increase in 2½ years.

Many first-time buyers have been unable to enter the market. They made up just 28 percent of purchases in September, down from 32 percent a year ago. In healthier housing markets, they typically make up at least 40 percent of buyers.




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