Home sales fall 9% in Northeast
NEW YORK - Existing home sales in the Northeast dropped more than 9 percent in October from last year, while the median sales price in the region sank 5 percent to $277,000, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday.
Sales in the Northeast were softer than the national numbers, but price declines were more moderate. Sales nationwide slipped less than 1 percent in October from a year ago, while the median price fell 11 percent to $183,300.
Sales in three major Northeast cities posted gains in October, according to the Associated Press-Re/Max Monthly Housing Report, also released yesterday. Only two of the nine Northeast metro areas surveyed recorded a drop in sales of more than 20 percent from a year ago. The report analyzed sales transactions recorded by all real estate agents in those areas.
While the Northeast hasn't suffered as much from the onslaught of foreclosures like areas in the West, the region's housing market hasn't been spared by the deteriorating economy, said Michael Lynch, regional economist at Waltham-based Global Insight.
He said the largest economy in New England, Massachusetts, is starting to show cracks after seeming "resilient" for the past several months. Job losses are mounting, which could be a harbinger for the rest of the region.
In the lower parts of the Northeast, turmoil on Wall Street threatens local economies and housing markets, especially in New Jersey and suburban New York. The area could lose up to 50,000 financial jobs, some economists estimate.
Already, the New York City suburban housing market is teetering, said real estate agent Sandra Lippman of Prudential Centennial Realty in Westchester County, north of the Big Apple.
Lippman said sales are "creeping" while inventory has increased over last year. Sales in Suffolk, Nassau, and Westchester counties, which surround New York City, dropped more than 11 percent, while prices fell almost 10 percent to $400,000, according to the AP-Re/Max report.
The market in Hartford, too far north for Manhattan commuters, is insulated from the direct job losses on Wall Street but buyers are still jittery about the economy, said Jeff Arakelian, chief executive of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors.
Sales there dropped more than 11 percent, while the median home price slipped 7 percent to $223,200.
There were some bright spots among the Northeast cities in the AP-Re/Max report. Pittsburgh posted a modest year-over-year price gain of more than 1 percent in October, the only metro area to record appreciation.
Sales volume rose over last year in Boston, Providence, and Manchester, N.H. Manchester led the group with a more than 11 percent increase. Providence recorded a 4 percent gain and Boston, a 3 percent increase.