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Home sales increase nationwide

Posted: November 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Despite the effects of Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast, sales of existing homes increased across the country in October — along with prices, reported the National Association of Realtors earlier this month.

The real estate group reported that single-family home sales rose 2.1 percent, accounting for 4.9 million homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops sold in October. Sales were up 10.9 percent over the prior year.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the West rose 4.4 percent to an annual level of 1.18 million homes sold in October. The sales are up 3.5 percent over a year ago. Inventory shortages in the region cased the median price to go up 21.2 percent over the prior year to $242,100.

By contrast, October sales in the Santa Clarita Valley were up 14.2 percent over the prior month and 23.3 percent over October 2011, reported the Southland Regional Association of Realtors on Tuesday.

Locally, the median price for a single-family home was $360,000, down 1 percent from a year ago. Condominium median prices of $200,000, however, were up 7 percent over the prior year.

Of note, however, rising home prices is resulting in a $760 billion growth in home equity for homeowners, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

“Given that each percentage point of price appreciation translates into an additional $190 billion in home equity, we could see close to a $1 trillion gain next year,” he said.

With fixed-rate mortgage rates falling to a record low of 3.38 percent in October, more first-time buyers are returning to the market. First-time buyers accounted for 31 percent of purchases in October, compared with 32 percent in September and 34 percent in October 2011, said a spokesperson for the Realty association.

“Inflationary pressures are expected to build during the next two years. As a result, mortgage interest rates will also rise with inflation,” said Gary Thomas, president of the association.

“Buyers who are currently held back by tight mortgage credit standards should work to improve their credit scores so they’ll be able to qualify for a mortgage while conditions are still favorable,” Thomas said.


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