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Home sales decline in September

Published:   |   Updated: October 15, 2013 at 11:25 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - There were 240 single-family homes sold in Hernando County in September, 49 fewer than the month before.

It represents the lowest selling month since January, when there were 214 homes sold, according to the Hernando County Association of Realtors' multi-listing service.

The average sales price of those sold homes last month was $105,000, compared to $110,000 in August.

September also saw a slowdown on the new-home construction front.

The Hernando County Development Department issued 11 single-family home permits last month, down from 21 a month earlier and the lowest number since February.

Marisa Brewer, broker with Preferred Property Associates, called September's numbers a continued result of people having difficulty obtaining bank financing.

Banks, she said, are requiring buyers to go through hoops to get a loan, and unless it's a cash transaction, that can be a problem for some people, she said.

Otherwise, Brewer said she is not concerned with the numbers.

"It's been pretty much stable in the year, and we're kind of averaging out," she said.

Brewer said many people who went through foreclosures or short sales and were unable to obtain loans until waiting the required number of years are starting to re-enter the market.

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages are at their lowest levels in three months.

Mortgage rates began falling last month after the Federal Reserve held off slowing its $85-billion-a-month in bond purchases.

Longer-term rates have also stayed low because of the partial government shutdown and a lack of government economic data.

The shutdown could also slow the housing recovery if it lasts for more than a few weeks, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Some prospective borrowers are finding it harder to close on their mortgages. And some lenders are having a hard time getting confirmation of applicants' income tax returns and Social Security data because of government agency closures, delaying some mortgage closings.

Although total existing-home sales nationwide this year will be up about 11 percent to nearly 5.2 million, little change is seen in 2014, with sales forecast to increase less than 1 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. The national median existing-home price should rise 11 to 12 percent for all of 2013, easing to an increase of 5 to 6 percent next year, with general improvement expected in inventory supplies, the NAR said.

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