September 24th, 2009
12:50 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Home sales snap winning streak

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Sales of previously-owned homes fell in August, snapping a four-month streak of increases.

Existing home sales fell 2.7% last month from July to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.1 million units, but were up 3.4% from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales had jumped 15.2% in the previous four months.

Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist, said the drop may reflect delays in completing sales due to tough lending standards and new rules for appraisals.

Nationwide sales are up nearly 14% from their bottom in January, but are still down nearly 30% from their peak about four years ago. For the housing market to stabilize, Yun says sales would need to rise to a pace of around 5.5 million to 6 million.

Additionally, the median sales price was $177,700, down 12.5% from $203,200 in the same month last year.

One bright spot in the report: Despite the decrease in sales, the supply of homes on the market fell significantly in August. Total housing inventory fell by 10.8% to 3.62 million existing homes for sale. That's an 8.5-month supply, down from a 9.3-month supply in July.

Unemployment claims keep sliding

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell last week – the third straight week of declines.

There were 530,000 initial claims filed in the week ended Sept. 19, down a better-than-expected 21,000 from a revised 551,000 in the previous week.

And the number of people who continue to receive benefits for one week or more fell by 123,000 to 6,138,000 in the week ended Sept. 12, the most recent data available.

Banks win first round in consumer fight

This summer, when Obama administration officials talked about overhauling financial regulation, they threw around a catchy phrase sure to appeal to consumers: "Plain vanilla" mortgages and credit cards.

"Plain vanilla" was used to illustrate the powers of a proposed new consumer agency. The agency could set basic standards - like one-page, easy-to-understand applications for 30-year-fixed mortgages.

Now, the so-called Consumer Financial Protection Agency won't get that power, according to a memo on the agency released by House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank.

The memo also says that some key providers of financial services, such as consumer reporting agencies, real estate brokers and auto dealers, would not be subject to the new agency's oversight.

Although the final bill language has yet to be released, experts on both sides of the fight agree the memo signals that top Democrats have made concessions to smooth passage of the most controversial yet symbolic part of regulatory reform.

Recession puts children on hold

The recession is apparently prompting more women to try to delay having children, according to the first survey aimed at documenting the effects of the economic downturn on childbearing.

Nearly half of working-class women want to put off getting pregnant or to have fewer children, according to the survey, which was commissioned by the Guttmacher Institute, a private, nonprofit reproductive-health research organization.

The study, conducted by Knowledge Networks, involved a nationally representative sample of 947 women ages 18 to 34 with household incomes of less than $75,000, and it was conducted in July and August.

Nintendo slashes Wii price by 20%

Nintendo said it is cutting the price of its popular Wii video-game console by $50 to $199.99.

The 20% price drop will take effect Sept. 27th. The new price is the first reduction since the console launched in November 2006.

The interactive Wii immediately proved wildly popular across demographics – including at nursing homes and rehabilitation centers to aid patients' recovery - and demand for the console outstripped supply more than a year after its initial release.

Nintendo's price cut mirrors recent moves by rivals Microsoft and Sony.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Housing Market • Technology
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. btbfree72

    I like the paragraph that talks about women delaying child bearing. The men I have met; have been in an ongoing recession since 1986. None of them wanted to have children or maybe scared that was going to be a stayed home mom. As a Latina woman, most time I date Latinos men and according with the sources Blacks and Latinos are the most affected when it comes to unemployment or economical stability.

    September 24, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  2. Amazing

    Uh Oh, Time for a housing stimulus!!

    September 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  3. alexlyrics

    This is no big deal, the only people buying these homes are the rich people who have money in the bank and or credit to do so. These wealthy people are investors, and people like Donald Trump, who will turn around and sell them for profit when the market returns.

    The sad thing, and the one no one is really talking about is that there will be at least another 1 million homes foreclosed by Christmas.

    So this bubble is nothing, simply those who have taking advantage of the low interest, and the low home values and foreclosures.

    September 24, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  4. earle,florida

    Yes indeed,.... the supply side of existing homes inventory fell, only because homeowners refuse to sell (bring their home to market) at a 50% discount of the value they lost ,period. Of course they'll stay put,and weather (if their the lucky ones?) the storm. The unemployment claims drop is really good news,therefore something out there is "Working"? Finally,the birthrate of children falling in the United States because of hard economic times ,and putting off child-birth has been going on in Russia,and other eastern european countries for a decade for the very reason that is now at our doorstep. Here's an interesting sidenote about Russia,and it's neighbors. Their populations have decreased by 25%-35%,and China has just made it legal for families to have two children six months ago in parts of the country,soon to be legal throughout all of China's Provinces.

    September 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm |