(CN) - Existing-home sales rebounded strongly in September, propelled by a big jump in the number of purchases by first-time buyers.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that the share of home sales to first-time buyers climbed to 34 percent last month a high not seen in over four years.
The association said all regions of the country saw an increase in closings in September and distressed sales fell to a new low of 4 percent of the market.
In real estate parlance, a distressed sale is one in which the property is sold in an urgent manner, often at a loss.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the association, said the two-month slump in existing sales reversed course convincingly in September.
"The home search over the past several months for a lot of prospective buyers, and especially for first-time buyers, took longer than usual because of the competition for the minimal amount of homes for sale," Yun said. "Most families and move-up buyers look to close before the new school year starts. Their diminishing presence from the market towards the end of summer created more opportunities for aspiring first-time homeowners to buy last month."
Overall, the National Association of Realtors said, sales of existing homes rose 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million, highest since June.
The supply of available homes was 2.04 million, down 6.8 percent from a year ago.
Tight inventories drove the median price of existing homes up 5.6 percent from a year ago to $234,200.
Institutional investors who bought up homes in recent years have continued to rent them out rather than putting them on the market, the association said.
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