WASHINGTON (10/22/13)--U.S. home prices increased in September, and the volume of sales dropped after a four year-high.
Existing home sales fell by 1.9%, down to 5.29 million units from 5.39 million in August, while the national median price for existing homes was up to $199,200, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Both existing-home sales and home prices were higher than they were a year earlier. Home prices in Sept. 2013 were 11.7% higher than they were in Sept. 2012, and sales increased by 10.7%, up from 4.78 million.
Data from Freddie Mac also showed that the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.49% in September, up from 4.46% in August--the highest that the measure has been since July 2011, when it was at 4.55%.
The increase in prices bolsters the narrative that housing markets throughout the country are recovering from the global financial crisis of 2008. Distressed homes were sold in 14% of total September transactions, up from 12% in August, but the August figure represents the lowest share of distressed sales since the NAR tracked them as a percentage of total sales in October 2008.
Data from realtor.com also shows that some of the strongest increases in home prices occurred in areas hit hardest by the subprime crisis. Prices increased by 44.6% in Detroit, 30% in Las Vegas and 28.9% in Sacramento.
Sending mixed messages about the effect of market fundamentals on the simultaneous rise in prices and drop in sales is the fact that supply remained constant in September. Total housing inventory remained stagnant at 2.21 million existing homes for sale.
Existing-home sales were down in the Northeast, Midwest and South, but rose by 1.6% in the West.