Mixed Picture in Housing
By Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, 10/30/2006 12:00:00 AM
Straddling optimism and anxiety, the U.S. housing market sent mixed signals in September, with the big market for existing homes still slowing down, but new home sales and starts making gains — at least in some parts of the nation.
Sales of existing homes, accounting for more than two-thirds of all activity, slipped for a sixth straight month, dipping 1.9%, the National Association of Realtors said. Sales fell 14.2% over 12 months.
But sales of pricey new homes — frequently subject to wide monthly swings — improved by 5.3%, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported. But results were mixed across the nation, sales tumbling by 34.5% in the Northeast and slipping by 6.3% in the Midwest, offsetting most of the gains put in the South, up 6.9%, and the West, up 23.9%.
The picture was even more schizophrenic when it comes to housing starts, which were up 5.9%. But apparently growing antsy, builders took out 6.3% fewer permits to cover future activity. Starts as well were split on a regional basis, rising by 14.0% in the South and by 3.4% in the Midwest, but falling by 14.1% in the Northeast and 2.2% in the West.
The price of existing homes recorded its biggest drop on record, down 2.2%, with the median price falling to $220,000 from $225,000. It was the biggest decline since a drop of 2.1% in November 1990. The National Association of Realtors said it was the first time on record that home prices had declined during the month of September.
HOUSING BY REGION
Month-To-Month % Change
|EXISTING HOME SALES||HOUSING STARTS||NEW HOME SALES|
|Source: U.S. Department of Commerce and National Association of Realtors
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