Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell more than forecast in September, signaling no letup in the real-estate slump that threatens to hobble economic growth.
Purchases declined 8 percent to an annual rate of 5.04 million, the fewest since record keeping began in 1999, from a 5.48 million August pace, the National Association of Realtors said in Washington. Sales were down 19 percent from September 2006 and the median home price dropped.
The collapse in subprime lending will limit access to credit and reduce sales even more in coming months, economists said. The drop in demand suggests home prices will keep falling, raising the risk consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, will slow.
“Housing still has a lot of weakness ahead of it,” Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York, said before the report. “Existing home sales are still not particularly low by historic standards.”
Resales were forecast to fall 4.5 percent to an annual rate of 5.25 million from a previously reported 5.5 million pace in August, according to the median estimate of 76 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Forecasts ranged from 4.95 million to 5.8 million.
The median price fell 4.2 percent to $211,700, compared with September 2006.
Sales of existing homes and condos fell 8% in September to the lowest level in at least eight years, further evidence that the credit squeeze in mortgage markets is hurting home sales, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Sales of existing homes and condos fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million, the lowest since 1999, when the real estate group began tracking combined single-family and condo sales. Inventories of unsold homes and condos rose to a 10.5-month supply, the largest in at least eight years. For single-family homes alone, sales fell 8.6% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million, the lowest sales pace since January 1998.
— Sales of existing homes plunged by a record amount in September as turmoil in mortgage markets added more problems to a housing industry in its worst slump in 16 years.
The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell 8 percent in September, the largest decline to show up in records dating to 1999. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 5.04 million existing homes was also the slowest pace on record.
The weakness in sales translated into further pressure on prices. The median price — the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less — fell to $211,700 in September, down by 4.2 percent from the sales price a year ago. It marked the 13th time out of the past 14 months that the year-over-year sales price has decreased.
The 8 percent decline in sales was bigger than the 4.5 percent decline that had been expected.