Existing-Home Sales Climb Gingerly

Existing home sales climbed in August after suffering a major drop in July It's a long climb back to the summit after last month's disastrous tumble, but home sales managed to inch upward in August. The latest existing-home sales report, released Sept. 23, shows home resales rising 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 4.13 million in August, up from an upwardly revised 3.84 million in July. While encouraging, sales remain 19 percent below the 5.10-million-unit pace from the same period a year ago. The most cringe-worthy results should be behind us, though, since July was the first month to bear the burden of consumers' homebuyer tax credit withdrawal. Despite historically low mortgage rates and a vast inventory, buyers continue to show restraint due to tight credit and a still-uncertain job market. For some perspective, the average mortgage commitment rate in August for a 30-year fixed-rate loan was 4.43 percent, a record low. Last August, the average was 5.19 percent. In layman's terms: Before we climb any higher, consumers need to know they have a harness to catch them.

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