Home sales rebound to highest level in 2 years

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of existing homes rebounded sharply in September to their highest level in two years, getting a strong boost from first-time homebuyers, according to a report released Friday.
Sales of previously-owned homes jumped 9.4% in September after falling for the first time in four months in August, said the National Association of Realtors. Year over year, sales of existing homes were up 9.2% in September.
"Much of

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of existing homes rebounded sharply in September to their highest level in two years, getting a strong boost from first-time homebuyers, according to a report released Friday.

Sales of previously-owned homes jumped 9.4% in September after falling for the first time in four months in August, said the National Association of Realtors. Year over year, sales of existing homes were up 9.2% in September.

"Much of the momentum is from people responding to the first-time buyer tax credit, which is freeing many sellers to make a trade and buy another home" said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

September home sales hit an annualized rate of 5.57 million properties, up from 5.10 million units in August. A consensus estimate compiled by Briefing.com had forecast sales of 5.35 million units.

The median price of homes sold in September was $174,900, falling 8.5% from a year earlier led by an influx of distressed properties, which include foreclosures and short sales.

Where the homes are selling. Regionally, the strongest market was the West, where sales climbed 13% to an annualized rate of 1.3 million. That was 5.7% higher than last year's rate. The median price of homes sold during the month was $219,000, down 15% from last year.

In the Midwest, sales were up by 9.6% to a pace of 1.25 million, which was 7.8% higher year-over year. Prices there have dipped 1% since 2008 to a median of $147,600.

Sales in the South were up 9% from August and 10.8% from last September to a rate of 2.6 million. Prices have dropped 7.6% to $153,500 in the past 12 months.

The Northeast reported a modest rise, with existing sales up 4.4% from August to a rate of 950,000. That was 11.8% from a year ago. The median price there was $234,700, down 7.6% from last year.

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