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U.S. home sales plummet in September

  Real Estate  -   POSTED: 2007/10/25 14:18

Sales of existing homes had a record decline in September nationwide while median home prices fell by the largest amount in nearly a year, reflecting deepening problems in the troubled housing market.

Analysts said the current downturn is already more severe than the housing slump of the 1990s. They predicted that before it is resolved, it will rival the 1980-82 housing slump. Back then, the industry was battered by double-digit mortgage rates and the economy was in a steep recession.

The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell 8 percent in September. It was the largest decline to show up in records dating to 1999. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 5.04 million existing homes was the slowest pace on record.

The median price - the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less - fell to $211,700 in September, 4.2 percent lower than the sales price a year ago. It was the biggest price drop since last October and marked the 13th time in the past 14 months that the year-over-year sales price has decreased.

Many of the nation's banks and financial houses are struggling under the burden of subprime mortgages made to weak borrowers in recent years. Those mortgages are the most likely to default.

Wednesday, for example, Merrill Lynch said it wrote down $7.9 billion in debt it holds, including subprime mortgages.


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