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 WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Continued low mortgage rates triggered a flurry of home purchases in October, pushing activity in the resale sector to the highest level in 14 years, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
 The association recorded a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate(A) of 4.08 million existing single-family homes in October, up 10.0 percent from October 1992 and up 3.6 percent from September. Last month's resale pace was the highest recorded since May 1979, when the rate hit 4.09 million units. All of the regions posted increases in home sales on both a year-to-year and month-to-month basis.
 NAR President Robert H. Elrod noted that the market remained quite strong in October despite a temporary uptick in interest rates that occurred during the past month. The minor increase did not deter buyers, he said. "Favorable rates, along with improved economic conditions, are keeping consumers in the market during a time of the year when sales generally start to taper off. Buyers definitely are still out there. Sales simply are not showing any signs of letting up," Elrod said.
 Although the trade-up market was active, purchases by first-time buyers continued to dominate many markets.
 On a monthly basis, rates remained very low in October. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reported that the national average commitment rate for 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 6.83 percent in October, the lowest monthly rate ever recorded by the corporation. The October rate fell from 6.91 percent in September and from 8.09 percent in October 1992.
 Last month's national median existing single-family home price was $106,000, which was 2.5 percent higher than one year earlier, when the price was $103,400. The median is the midpoint in the price range -- half the homes sold cost more, half cost less. The modest year-to-year price increase reflects steady demand from entry-level buyers, who generally purchase less-expensive homes and thus hold down the median price.
 Through October, there were 3.167 million existing single-family homes sold nationwide. The year-to-date total was 7.0 percent higher than that for the first 10 months of 1992.
 On a regional basis, the largest year-to-year and month-to-month increase in resales was posted in the West. In that region, the existing-home sales rate was 910,000 units in October jumping 12.3 percent from the October 1992 pace, and rising 9.6 percent from September. The West's median price was $141,200 last month, down 1.1 percent from one year earlier. The sales increase there is "very encouraging," in light of the economic downturn that has permeated much of California, said NAR Chief Economist John A. Tuccillo. The increase in the West likely is due in part to strong housing markets in the Pacific Northwest and some sections of the Rockies, he noted.
 In the Midwest, the resale pace was 1.09 million units, up 6.9 percent from October 1992 and up 3.8 percent from September. The median existing-home price in the Midwest was $85,200, up 3.5 percent from one year earlier.
 The South also recorded healthy resale activity. Existing homes there sold at a rate of 1.47 million units in October, up 11.4 percent from October 1992, and up 0.7 percent from September. The median price in the South was $95,200, up 3.7 percent from October 1992.
 In the Northeast, the resale pace for October was 610,000 units, up 8.9 percent from October 1992. The median price for existing single- family homes in the Northeast was $137,900 last month, rising 1.9 percent from one year earlier.
 Home sales in November are expected to be heavy, as more people who had been delaying their purchases decide to follow through, Tuccillo noted. "A lot of people are starting to jump off the fence. The outlook is very promising," he said. "Rock-bottom interest rates, improved consumer confidence and growing demand from younger households are creating an extremely strong housing market. The conditions are unbeatable."
 Currently, NAR is predicting existing single-family home sales to total 3.698 million units this year, representing a 5.0 percent increase from the 1992 total. In 1994, sales are expected to rise 3.2 percent to 3.815 million units. The median price for existing single-family homes is expected to be $106,800 this year, rising 3.0 percent above the price for last year. The price is expected to rise 3.8 percent to $110,900 in 1994.
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
 (A) The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume normally is higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather.
 -0- 11/29/93
 /CONTACT: Trisha Morris, 202-383-7560, Cheryl Spector, 202-383-1289, or Walter Molony, 202-383-1177, all of the National Association of Realtors/

CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: CST SU: ECO

DC-DT -- DC001 -- 8133 11/29/93 08:49 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 29, 1993

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