From the WSJ:
U.S. home sales reached the highest level of the year in September, a sign of slowly building momentum in a housing market whose recovery has come in fits and starts over the past year.
Sales of previously owned homes climbed 2.4% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in September, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. That marked the fifth increase in six months.
The report suggests the housing market resumed the steady climb it began early this year, rebounding from a soft spell in August. Interest rates are near historic lows, and stronger job growth is boosting consumers’ confidence and pay.
“The signs of life in the housing market are generally positive and the resale market appears to be strengthening again,” economist John Ryding of RDQ economics said in a note to clients.
Despite the latest progress, the market continues to underperform. Sales in September were down 1.7% compared with a year earlier. Many Americans are continuing to rent or live with others rather than buy, a sign that credit standards remain tight and many families remain financially strained.
Tuesday’s report showed housing inventory loosened. The number of for-sale homes rose 6% in September compared with a year earlier. At the latest sales pace, it would take 5.3 months to exhaust the housing supply
Home prices, meanwhile, continue to climb. The median sale price for a home last month stood at $209,700, up 5.6% from a year earlier. Prices have risen year over year for 31 consecutive months.
Sales in September rose in every region but the Midwest.
Investors made up 14% of home purchases in September, down from 19% a year earlier. Meanwhile, purchases by first-time buyers have yet to climb significantly after falling earlier in the recovery.