October surprise — existing home sales up in September

Surprise, surprise. Existing home sales were up in September 2008. According to Reuters,

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose 5.5 percent last month, the biggest gain since July 2003, and the inventory of unsold homes fell,

The National Association of Realtors, which released the data, said the gains are fairly widespread:

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said more markets are seeing year-over-year gains. “The sales turnaround which began in California several months ago is broadening now to Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Rhode Island,” he said. “The South was hampered by much lower home sales in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.”

The NAR credits low home prices and low interest rates for the gains. In another encouraging sign, total housing inventories were down for the second month in a row.

Is our government with its proposed stimulus package still going to “stimulate” greater credit availability for home buying?  The people currently buying are more likely to pass their credit screening and affordability indexes — hopefully, lenders are using those now.