Monday, September 25, 2006

Fun Time for Buyers

NEW YORK ( -- Home sales slowed and a key measure of prices fell for the first time in 11 years last month, spurred by the biggest glut of new homes on the market in more than a decade, an industry group said Monday.

The National Association of Realtors report on existing home sales showed that the median home price in August was $225,000, down 1.7 percent from a year earlier. It was the first year-over-year decline in median prices since April 1995, when that measure slipped only 0.1 percent. And it was the biggest year-over-year drop since the record 2.1 percent decline recorded in November 1990, when the nation was in recession.

While month-over-month declines in prices are not uncommon, year-over-year decreases in prices are a more serious sign of a slumping housing market. Even in other recessions, home prices generally have risen year-over-year on a national basis. The median price is the point at which half the homes sell for more and half sell for less....

The downward pressure on prices came from the record inventory of homes on the market in August. The group said there were 3.9 million homes on the market, up 38 percent from a year earlier. That gave the market a 7.5-month supply of homes, also up sharply from the 4.7-month supply available in August 2005, and the average 4.3-month supply throughout 2004.

The last time the group estimated a 7.5 month supply was April 1993.

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