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Home Prices Rising, Inventory Shrinking

Increasing housing prices have not discouraged prospective home buyers, with sales nationally up 11 percent in September compared to one year ago, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Friday..

Prices were up for the seventh month in a row. There hasn't been such a long run-up in prices since the period between November 2005 and May 2006. Nationally, the median price for an existing home is $183,900, up 11.3 percent from September 2011..

On a monthly basis, home sales were down 1.7 percent in September compared to August. Sales typically slip as the school year starts..

"Despite occasional month-to-month setbacks, we're experiencing a genuine recovery," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors group..

Inventory continues to tighten nationwide. There is a 5.9-month supply of homes on the market, compared to a six-month supply in August and more than eight months supply in the same period last year. Inventory was tightest in western states, where home prices were up 18.4 percent in September, compared to a year ago..

Homes around the country are also selling faster. Median time on the market was 70 days in September, down from 101 days in September 2011..

First-time buyers accounted for 32 percent of sales nationally, as they did in September last year. Investor purchases have been steady: Investors bought 18 percent of homes in both September and August, compared to 19 percent of homes in September 2011..

Roughly one in four sales was distressed. Foreclosures amounted to 13 percent of sales, with prices averaging 21 percent below market value. Eleven percent of sales were short sales, at an average discount of 13 percent..

Source: Jeanne Lang Jones Staff Writer- Puget Sound Business.

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