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October 24, 2009

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Home » Business » Real Estate

Home sales in US pick up momentum

SALES of previously owned homes in the United States rose in September to the highest level in more than two years, beating expectations, as buyers scrambled to complete their purchases before a tax credit for first-time owners expires.

The National Association of Realtors said yesterday that sales rose 9.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million in September, from a downwardly revised pace of 5.1 million in August. Sales had been expected to rise to an annual pace of 5.35 million, according to economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

The median sales price was US$174,900, down 8.5 percent from a year earlier, and slightly lower than August's median of US$177,300.

"There's a mini-boom going on in the housing market," said Thomas Popik, who conducts a monthly survey of real estate agents for Campbell Communications, a research firm.

The inventory of unsold homes on the market fell about 7 percent to 3.63 million. That's a 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, and the lowest level since March 2007.

Nationwide sales are up nearly 24 percent from their bottom in January, but are still down 23 percent from four years ago. Sales rose around the country, especially in the West, where they grew 13 percent from a month earlier. Foreclosure sales are booming in cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.

First-time home buyers and investors are snapping up those homes and taking advantage of low mortgage rates.

These buyers can also take advantage of a tax credit of 10 percent of the sales price, up to US$8,000, if the sale is completed by the end of November.



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