Existing home sales fall below 5 million

Existing-home sales fell 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million units in October from a downwardly revised pace of 5.14 million in September. Sales are 1.6 percent below the 5.06 million-unit level in October 2007.

The sales figure, from the National Association of Realtors, includes single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

The national median existing-home price in October was $183,300, down 11.3% from a year ago when the median was $206,700. In September, the median existing-home price was $191,400. That 11.3 percent decline stands as the largest year-over-year drop on since 1968, and the lowest median sales price since March 2004.

“Many potential home buyers appear to have withdrawn from the market due to the stock market collapse and deteriorating economic conditions,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. 

Yun identified some areas with solid sales gains from a year ago, including many California and Florida markets, as well as Boston, Minneapolis, and Denver.

Total housing inventory at the end of October slipped 0.9 percent to 4.23 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 10.0-month supply in September.