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Home Sales Are Up, But So Are 'Contract Failures'

A for sale sign in front of a home, in Milton, Mass., last week.
Steven Senne
A for sale sign in front of a home, in Milton, Mass., last week.

There was a 1.4 percent increase in sales of existing homes in October from September, the National Association of Realtors reported this hour.

At its 4.97 million annual rate, the pace of sales was up 13.5 percent from October 2010.

But in a classic "on the other hand" kind of note, NAR also said that more of its members reported "contract failures" last month. "Contract failures reported by NAR members jumped to 33 percent in October from 18 percent in September, and were only 8 percent a year ago, so we should be seeing stronger sales," the group's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said in its report.

According to NAR:

"Contract failures are cancellations caused by declined mortgage applications, failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price, or other problems including home inspections and employment losses.

" 'Other recent factors include disruption in the National Flood Insurance Program, and lower loan limits for conventional mortgages, which paradoxically force some of the most creditworthy consumers to pay unnecessarily higher interest rates,' Yun said."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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