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Date: 8/15/2008
Authors: Kathleen M. Howley and Dan Levy

News Bite

Home Sales Fall to 10-Year Low as Prices Tumble

Existing U.S. home sales fell to a 10- year low in the second quarter and the median price for a single- family house dropped 7.6 percent as the real estate recession deepened. The median price tumbled to $206,500 from $223,500 a year earlier, the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors said in a new report released this week. Sales of single-family houses and condominiums fell 16 percent to 4.913 million at an annualized pace.

A third of all sales in the quarter were foreclosures or "short sales,'' in which lenders take a loss on a property, NAR said. Bank repossessions almost tripled in July from a year earlier, according to a new report from RealtyTrac Inc.

The biggest declines reported by NAR were in Sacramento, the capital of California, with a 36 percent drop, followed by the metropolitan area around Cape Coral and Ft. Myers, Florida, down 33 percent. Riverside and San Bernardino, California, tumbled 32.7 percent, and Los Angeles dropped 30 percent, according to the report.

Bank seizures of properties in default rose 184 percent to 77,295 in July, according to RealtyTrac. That was the steepest increase since the Irvine, California-based company began reporting data in January 2005. More than 272,000 properties, or one in 464 U.S. households, got a default notice, were warned of a pending auction or were foreclosed on, RealtyTrac said. Nevada, California and Florida had the highest rates, RealtyTrac said.

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