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Third-quarter housing gains

Third-quarter housing gains

The real estate market in the third quarter continues to see improvements in the median existing single-family home price, total existing-home sales, and profitability by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to, prices for single-family homes jumped in 81 percent of U.S. cities, and the median sales prices increased year-over-year in 120 of 149 metropolitan areas measured, based on recent figures released by the National Association of Realtors.

The national median existing single-family home price was $186,100 in the third quarter, up 7.6 percent from $173,000 in the third quarter of 2011. This marks the best year-over-year increase since the first quarter of 2006, when the median jumped 9.4 percent. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, credited the incline in home prices to lower supply and higher demand. Earlier this year, “a broad equilibrium began to develop in most areas between home buyers and sellers, which led to a sustained upturn in home prices,” says Yun.

Total existing-home sales, including single-family properties and condos, went up 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.68 million in the third quarter from 4.54 million in the second quarter. Home sales increased by 10 percent since the third quarter of 2011. Inventory at the end of the third quarter hovers at 2.32 million houses, 20 percent below the 2.90 million mark at the end of the third quarter last year. Foreclosures and short sales made up 23 percent of all third-quarter transactions, down from 30 percent a year ago.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s profitability has increased as a result of the housing recovery, reports the Huffington Post. Taxpayers have paid about $116 billion to rescue Fannie, of which one-fifth has been repaid. Fannie posted third-quarter earnings of $1.8 billion, while Freddie enjoyed its fourth straight profitable quarter, earning $2.9 billion and paying the U.S. Treasury a dividend of $1.8 billion. The two lenders, which own or guarantee one-half of all mortgages to the tune of about 31 million loans, backed 90 percent of new mortgages in 2012.