From the NY Times:
ome sales in the Northeast soared in October as first-time buyers clamored to close deals before the expiration of a federal tax credit.
The nine-state region registered 85,000 home resales last month, up 25 percent from a year ago when the financial crisis gripped the country, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. The median price, however, fell about 3 percent to $235,400.
Nationally, sales of existing homes jumped almost 21 percent from October last year, without adjusting for seasonal factors. The median sales price tumbled 7 percent to $173,100.
The surge in sales came as many first-time homebuyers rushed to qualify for an $8,000 tax credit that was scheduled to expire at the end of this month before Congress extended it through April.
”The only reason we’re seeing good numbers is because of government policies that are propping the market up,” said Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight. ”Housing is still fundamentally weak.”
All nine major Northeast cities tracked in the Associated Press-Re/Max Monthly Housing Report showed annual increases in home sales last month. The report, also released Monday, analyzed sales transactions in the metropolitan statistical areas recorded by all real estate agents, regardless of company affiliation.
Here are some highlights from the region:
–Biggest sales gain: Trenton, N.J., saw sales climb by 45 percent from a year ago. Prices there continue to fall, tumbling 11 percent year-over-year to $231,500.
Lower-priced homes between $150,000 to $350,000, are leading the brisk sales, said T. Christopher Hill, an agent with Re/Max TriCounty in Hamilton Township, N.J., thanks in large part to the first-time homebuyer tax credit.
As for November? Hill predicts a strong sales month, but the numbers won’t be as high as September and October.
— Smallest sales gain: Sales in the New York City suburbs increased 5 percent in October, while the median price lost 3 percent to $385,000.
Despite lagging in the region, the performance was a step up for the area which has been battered by job losses in the financial sector.
–Biggest price gain: For October, Pittsburgh prices inched up 2 percent from a year ago to $118,000, the only price increase in the region. Sales there rose almost 11 percent.
”We weren’t invited to the party, so we don’t have a hangover,” said Dan Kite of Northwood Realty Services, explaining the relative stability of Pittsburgh’s home prices.